Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10739/4639
Title: The value of vagueness: A feminist analysis
Authors: Chadha Sridhar, Ira
Keywords: Vagueness
Language and law
Feminist philosophy
Jurisprudence
Issue Date: 25-Feb-2021
Publisher: Canadian Journal of Law & Jurisprudence, Cambridge University Press
Citation: Chadha-Sridhar, I. (2021). The Value of Vagueness: A Feminist Analysis. Canadian Journal of Law & Jurisprudence, 34(1), 59-84.
Abstract: Legal systems see linguistic vagueness as a problem: it must be reduced, if not altogether eliminated. Precision is prioritised over vagueness within our concepts of law and legality. In this paper, I question the preference for precision over vagueness. I argue that vagueness is inevitable and valuable for the law by drawing from feminist philosophy – a new and important lens with which to study vagueness. I show that the precision/vagueness binary is an extension of the Cartesian dualism that prioritises abstract cognition over embodied experience. As it is vagueness that uniquely captures lived experiences and contexts, it becomes important to reclaim vagueness as a potential ‘feminist value’. The intrinsic value of vagueness can translate into instrumental benefits as well. First, when legal systems grapple with personal relationships between individuals (addressed here through ‘feminist care ethics’) and second, when they must resolve issues of discrimination (addressed through ‘intersectionality’), law benefits from vague expressions. These areas of human life, and perhaps several others, require an understanding of subjectivity, particularity and context. Precision is ineffective. I hope that these explorations can help conceptualise a feminist approach to the law-language question and show that vagueness, in the world of law, can be of value.
Description: The paper seeks discuss the problem of vagueness in language. It can be of interest to legal academics from a range of fields interested in understanding how language shapes - and is shaped by - the law.
URI: https://doi.org/10.1017/cjlj.2020.22
http://hdl.handle.net/10739/4639
Appears in Collections:JGU Research Publications

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