Date of Award
Master of Laws (LLM)
Kierstead, Shelley Margot
Gödel showed that formal systems which discuss natural numbers cannot be complete or prove their own consistency. Incompleteness in this sense is limited to formal systems, and so is not applicable to law by it own terms.
Looking to the philosophy behind the Incompleteness Theorem, Gödel intended to show that positivism was a bankrupt world-view, and this resonates strongly with Lon Fuller. Fuller is analogous to Gödel in his condemnation of the positivist philosophy because he showed that a system of rules, by itself, was not capable of rendering judgments. A legal system is dependent upon an external morality, but a close inspection reveals that Fuller’s own natural law view was positivistic in its denial of substantive natural law. A legal system consistent with Gödel’s philosophy would seek justice in an objective and non-arbitrary sense, and would rely on a natural law system akin to that described by Aquinas.
Garon, Henry James, "Fuller and Godel: Prophets Against the Evils of Positivism: How the Natural Law is Necessary to Provide Legal Meaning and Consistency" (2013). LLM Theses. 12.