Factual Indeterminacy in International tax Law

Author:B. Bogenschneider
Position:University of Surrey (Guildford, United Kingdom)
BRICS LAW JOURNAL Volume III (2016) Issue 3
University of Surrey (Guildford, United Kingdom)
DOI: 10.21684/2412-2343-2016-3-3-73-102
Legal indeterminacy comes in a variety of forms identied here as: (i) general legal
indeterminacy; (ii) factual indeterminacy; and (iii) Mach/Feyerabend factual indeterminacy.
The concept of general “legal indeterminacy” refers to problems in legal interpretation and
has been extensively studied. “Factual indeterminacy” refers to the indeterminacy of facts
as a matter of tax law when derived from separately indeterminate elds of law. “Mach/
Feyerabend factual indeterminacy” refers to fact words as derived from legal theory which
provide the content for legal interpretation. The “facts” in tax law are not transcendent to
law; in addition, the “fact” words of tax law cannot be simply imported from the eld of
economics. The incremental question of the origins of theory (as discussed by Karl Popper
and Albert Einstein) is also analyzed here. The theory of tax law originates with “sympathy
with experience” or “intellectual love” (tr. Einfühlung) of tax law by lawyers as reected in
the special heuristics and practices of the profession. Legal theory accordingly functions
in similar fashion to scientic theory where a particular legal theory can be falsied (qua
Popper) or understood in pluralistic terms by incorporating auxiliary ideas.
Keywords: indeterminacy; legal science; Mach; Feyerabend; Popper.
Recommended citation: Bret Bogenschneider, Factual Indeterminacy in Interna-
tional Tax Law, 3(3) BRICS Law Journal 73–102 (2016).
Table of Contents
1. Introduction
2. The Indeterminacy Thesis
3. Where Do Legal “Facts” Come From?
a. Feyerabend’s “observational language” versus everyday language
BRICS LAW JOURNAL Volume III (2016) Issue 3 74
4. Where Does Legal “Theory” Come From?
5. Legal Science and Indeterminacy
a. The Testing of Legal Theory by Theory
6. Conclusion
1. Introduction
The identication of “facts” is a critical aspect of legal interpretation. If the
respective “facts” to which a law will be applied are not consistently determinable then
legal outcomes may be indeterminate. But, the potential for factual indeterminacy
is not what is meant by the general usage of the term “legal indeterminacy”. In the
theory of positive law (particularly as relevant to tax law) “legal indeterminacy” refers
to the potential for diering interpretations of a given law.1 For example, where the
legislature did not contemplate a particular situation in drafting a law the codied
result may then be indeterminate in application. Both legal realists and positive law
scholars allow for the potential of legal indeterminacy.2 However, the question not
normally addressed by positive legal theory is: Where do legal “facts” come from?
Here, the reference to “facts” means the fact words necessary to identify the “facts”
relevant to legal interpretation under the law.3 As recently identie d by Mik hail
Antonov, Continental European positive law scholars have insuciently addressed
the pertinent question about the origin of legal “facts”.4 One proposal is that the
1 See Michael Potács, Legal Theory (Vienna: Kluwer, 2015), at ch. V, sec. A, pt. 2 (“Even Kelsen stressed the
exact opposite: ‘All previously developed methods of interpretation always lead only to a possible, not
a single correct result.’ The assumption here is that legal positivism constitutes an objective meaning
(or content) of legislation. However, this assumption does not exclude the possibility that the objective
meaning of legislation is vague or indeterminate.”).
2 Karl N. Llewellyn, The Bramble Bush: Some Lectures on Law and Its Study 26 (New York: Columbia
University Press, 1930) (“Is it not obvious that as soon as you pick up this statement of the facts to
nd its legal bearings you must discard some as of no interest whatsoever, discard others as dramatic
hut as legal nothings? And is it not clear, further, that when you pick up the facts which are left and
which do seem relevant, you suddenly cease to deal with them in the concrete and deal with them
instead in categories which you, for one reason or another, deem signicant?”); Cristoph M öllers,
Towards a New Conceptualism in Comparative Constitutional Law, or Reviving the German Tradition of
the Lehrbuch, 12(3) Int’l J. Constitutional Law 603 (2014) (“Perhaps the most important element in the
realist critique of legal concepts has stressed their indeterminacy. This is surprising because there is
virtually nobody in the classical formalist era of ‘Begrisjurisprudenz’ or common law formalism à la
Langdell to have claimed that legal concepts were determinate.”).
3 See infra part 3.
4 Mikhail Antonov, Systemacity of Law: A Phantasm? 3(3) Russian Law Journal 110 (2015) (“[T]he paradigm
of interpretation of reality dictates, or is interrelated with, the paradigm of facts. In continental legal
doctrine, the concept of a ‘legal system’ constitutes the predominant paradigm of interpretation,
which in turn indicates that law shall be described and interpreted as a whole. Even if this approach
can appear intuitively correct within the continental legal paradigm, it remains basically devoid of any
serious analytical evidence.”); see also Антонов М.В. О системности права и «системных» понятиях

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