Formality, Neutrality, and Goal-Rationality: The Legacy of Weber in Analyzing Legal Thought

Lonn Lanza-Kaduce
1982 Journal of criminal law & criminology  
This paper takes issue with Chambliss and Seidman's thesis that the process of appellate decision-making is primarily value-laden.*** Using Weber's typology of legal thought and his distinction between value and goal-rationality, a theoretical framework is advanced to analyze judicial reasoning. The viability of this framework is demonstrated when it is applied to a particularly strategic capital punishment case. Personal values are not nearly so important as judicial perceptions of formal
more » ... ions of formal rules about how to proceed. Legal analysis seeks to separate the challenged legal means designed to achieve governmental objectives from those governmental ends in a goal-rational way. For the most part, this avoids imbuing argumentation with the value questions inherent in the objectives. Empirical data are not used as readily as Chainbliss and Seidman suggest, and when they are, means/ends distinctions are maintained. The problem of legitimation and some of Chambliss and Seidman's extra-legal inputs are then examined to see why judges are constrained to follow formal, neutral, and goal-rational lines of argumentation where law remains the polestar for decision-making.
doi:10.2307/1143106 fatcat:2gxci24btjhutge6ptv6vx5qxy