Martin Madej, Filip Horák
Author’s affiliation: Faculty of Law, Charles University

Axioms in Legal Argumentation: A Double-edged Sword in the Hands of Law-applying Institutions

Jurisprudence 5/2018 Section: Articles Page: 29–42

Keywords: axiom, argumentation, case law, reasoning

Abstract: The article focuses on the concept of axiom defined as a further unsubstantiated assertion, the accuracy of which is merely assumed a priori. The authors point out that although the axioms have been spoken of mostly in exact science, they also find their place in law, especially in judicial reasoning. Whenever a judge refuses to provide reasoning for their factual (e.g. home births are more dangerous than hospital deliveries) or legal (e.g. the right to human dignity is absolute) conclusions, we are - strictly speaking - witnessing axiomatic argumentation. Without evaluating the use of axioms, the authors analyse several relevant decisions of Czech courts. Only after the classification of axioms and their distinction from „notoriety“, they consider the axioms in the context of the prohibition of judicial arbitrariness and legal formalism and draw attention to some of the negative impacts that axiomatic argumentation may bring.