This is a summary of a fictitious case created in Lon L Fuller, ‘The Case of the. Speluncean Explorers’ () 62(4) Harvard Law Review The case takes. 1 Lon L Fuller, `The Case of the Speluncean Explorers’ 2 See, eg, Jordi Ferrer Beltr n and Giovanni Battista Ratti (eds), The Logic of Legal Requirements. Abstract: Lon L. Fuller’s The Case of the Speluncean Explorers is a classic in jurisprudence. The case presents five judicial opinions which clash with each other.

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Google Books no proxy legacy. Justice Handy notes that apart from the ambivalent Justice Tatting, csse other judges share the majority public opinion. Wikipedia articles needing clarification from March Indeterminacy of Legal Reasoning in Philosophy of Law. Retrieved from ” https: Request removal from index. Fuller – – Harvard Law Review.

As the Court’s decision is a tie, the original convictions are upheld and the men are speluncfan to death. They then consult with medical experts, who inform them that they are unlikely to survive to the rescue given the likelihood of starvation. Sign in to use this feature. Peter Suber carefully and clearly introduces students to the main themes of Fuller’s article before introducing nine new opinions.

Following their rescue and recovery, the survivors are charged with the murder of Whetmore.

Peter Suber Earlham College. The others refuse to accept explorwrs change of mind, and cast the dice on his behalf. Describing a case of trapped travellers who are forcd to cannibalize one of their team, it is used on courses in philosophy of law and Jurisprudence to show how their trial upon rescue touches on key concepts in philosophy and legal theory such as utilitarianism and naturalism.

Spleuncean Tatting disagrees strongly with Justice Foster’s rationales in overturning the convictions. He criticizes the “state of nature” concept and is not satisfied with Justice Foster’s formulation placing the law of contract above the law against murder. If this Court declares that under our law these men have committed a crime, then our law is itself convicted in the tribunal of common sense, no matter what happens to the individuals involved in this petition of error.


The facts of the case are recounted in the first judicial opinion, which is given by Chief Justice Truepenny. In the novel, Valjean is imprisoned after stealing bread to feed his sister’s starving children. Largely taking the hhe of a fictional judgment, it presents a legal philosophy puzzle to the reader and five possible solutions in the form of judicial opinions that are attributed to judges sitting on the fictional “Supreme Court of Newgarth” in the year Fuller first published in the Harvard Law Review in It will show you how judges with different moral and political beliefs interpret written law, how they use precedents, how they conceive the proper role of judges, how they conceive the relationship between law and morality, and how they defend their judicial practices against criticism.

Realism about Legal Reasoning in Philosophy of Law.

The Case of the Speluncean Explorers – Wikipedia

They learn via intermittent radio contact that, without food, they are likely to starve to death before they can be rescued. The article offers five possible judicial responses. Above ground, substantial resources are seluncean to rescue them, with 10 workmen killed in subsequent landslides near the blocked entrance.

Criticises Foster J’s approach The natural law under the posited “state of nature” prioritises freedom of contract above the right to life Purposive approach to statutory interpretation is difficult when there are multiple purposes here, retribution and rehabilitation Cannot decide case due to competing legal rationales and emotions.

These speouncean include perspectives from communitarian, feminist, multicultural, postmodern and economic theories of law, updating Fuller’s original case and bringing contemporary ghe of law to bear on the five original opinions.


Criticises Chief Justice’s proposed appeal to Executive for clemency given need to respect separation of powers ; should only make appeal in capacity as private citizens Moral considerations are irrelevant in applying the statute.

Strategies of Judicial Review. The judge cites the case of Commonwealth v Valjean[b] in which starvation was held not to justify the theft of a loaf of bread, let alone homicide.

A fifth judge, who is unable to reach a conclusion, recuses himself.

The laws oof nature allowed to agree to sacrifice one person for the survival of the rest. They decide who should be killed by throwing a pair of dice.

The Case of the Speluncean Explorers

Judges can find an exception to the law by implication, as the Courts had earlier done with self-defense. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Torben Spaak – – Ratio Juris 22 4: The Chief Justice states that the statute is unambiguous, with no applicable legal defences, so it must be applied by the court.

Radio contact is subsequently lost. The Harvard Law Review Association. James Allan – Progress Toward the Rule of Law in China.

He is subsequently killed and eaten. He draws analogies to servants who need to “read between the lines” of their masters’ instructions; strict literal compliance may not always be the actual intention.

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