Indiana Law Journal
Some have begun to doubt whether courts adequately respond to recent social problems. Formulated rules, principles, and statutes govern a case in court, and these commanding communications addressed to judges theoretically guide and control the decision-making process. Rules, although often imprecise, are subjected to the scrutiny of the legal profession, which is trained to interpret their meaning and possible application in different fact situations. This, in turn, promotes a high degree of social and political stability since there is less ambiguity as to what constitutes permissible or required behavior.
Attitudes, social institutions, language, and critical decision making are all factors that influence judicial reasoning and social change. Propositions held valid in law cannot be held valid as ultimate or ontological truths without assuming that mankind has perfect knowledge of that part of existence described in the proposition. Adherence to “objective” standards provides for no flexibility. Recognizing a need for flexibility in the tools of law does not require that all law become questionable. It is only when the effect of law causes a social disruption as evidenced by a serious controversy in regard to fundamental changes that warrants reexamination.
The law, peculiarly among disciplines, seeks legitimacy through the realization of the basic and universal needs of individuals living in a fluid yet cohesive group. It is only through reason that basic needs, which in the societal aggregate give rise to the collective will, can be distinguished from superficial interests.
David A. Dittfurth, Judicial Reasoning and Social Change, 50 Ind. L.J. 258 (1975).