12 Colum. Sci. & Tech. L. Rev. 1 (2011)

handle is hein.journals/cstlr12 and id is 1 raw text is: The Columbia

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY LAW REVIEW
www.stlr.org
THE VARIABLE DETERMINACY THESIS
Harry SurdenI
This Article proposes a novel technique for characterizing the
relative determinacy of legal decision-making.   I begin with the
observation that the determinacy of legal outcomes varies from context to
context within the law. To augment this intuition, I develop a theoretical
model of determinate legal decision-making. This model aims to capture
the essential features that are typically associated with the concept of legal
determinacy. I then argue that we can use such an idealized model as a
standard for expressing the relative determinacy or indeterminacy of
decision-making in actual, observed legal contexts. From a legal theory
standpoint, this approach - separating determinacy and indeterminacy into
their constituent conceptual elements - helps us to more rigorously define
these theoretical ideas. Ultimately, from a practical standpoint, I assert
that this framework assists in understanding why legal outcomes in certain
contexts are determinate enough to be amenable to resolution by
computers.
Associate Professor, University of Colorado Law School. B.A. Cornell University; J.D.
Stanford University. Many thanks to Stanford Law School for supporting this work through my
fellowship with the Stanford Center for Computers and Law, as well as to the generous support of
the University of Colorado Law School. I am grateful for the ideas and challenges of Michael
Genesereth from the Stanford Computer Science Department whose tireless efforts inspired this
work. Many thanks to Paul Ohm, Phil Weiser, Pierre Schlag, Andrew Schwartz, Alexia Brunet,
Vic Fleischer, and the rest of my excellent colleagues at the University of Colorado Law School
for their input. Many thanks also to Seema Shah, Andrew Coan, and Viva Moffat for their very
helpful comments. Finally, thanks to Ashley Boothby, Molly locker and Blake Reid for their
excellent research assistance.
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