Fuzzy Law: A Theory of Quasi-Legal Systems

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Our lives are permeated by various forms of legality, produced by multiple bodies-both statist and non-statist. The pervasive presence of non-statist, soft law schemes in the contemporary society poses a challenge for legal theory: how to conceptualize legal-like structures that evolve outside the boundaries of the state and are able nonetheless to exert significant normative power? Understanding this phenomenon requires, I argue, a new model of law that will not be bounded by the binary (either/or) structure of traditional jurisprudence and sociology of law. I respond to this challenge by developing a degree-theoretic model of legal-normativity which I term fuzzy law. This model offers a new conceptual vocabulary for thinking about soft law as a social phenomenon. The model draws on three main theoretical sources: the theory of complementary pairs, fuzzy-set theory, and defeasible reasoning. I examine the jurisprudential and sociological implications of the fuzzy law model through a discussion of the dialectics of reasoning with fuzzy rules and an exploration of the coordination dynamics of quasi-legal systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-370
Number of pages28
JournalCanadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence.


  • Fuzzy-set theory
  • complementary pairs
  • defeasible reasoning
  • fuzzy law
  • quasi-legal systems


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