UVA Law Faculty Affiliations
Though the analysis of rules is a philosophical task, inquiry into how rules function in decision-making is an empirical one. We can know what a rule is but still not know when, how, and why rules are used in different decision-making environments, and what functions they serve in producing or justifying decisions. Thus, studying how rules are situated within decision-making environments is an empirical inquiry, and one that can be pursued with the tools of any of the social science disciplines. But good social science inquiry requires careful definition of the variables, and equally careful specification of the question or questions to be researched. The goal of this chapter is to try to satisfy this requirement by attempting to specify just what a rule is, and, more importantly, to specify carefully at least one empirical question, and arguably a foundational one, about the role of rules within legal and other decision-making environments.