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Contributions from the 1st Genova-Slavic Seminar in Legal Theory

On Coherence as a Formal Property of Normative Systems

Giovanni Battista Ratti and Jorge Luis Rodríguez
p. 131-146


The paper deals with the notions of consistency, completeness, and coherence within the normative domain. It investigates their mutual relations by singling out relative (to negation) and absolute consistency, weak, strong and trivial completeness, and three different functions of coherence (simplification, integration, and defeasance). The main upshot of the inquiry is that coherence may be regarded as a complex combination of weak completeness and possible absence of consistency and strong completeness of a system of rules regarding a non-trivially complete/non-absolutely inconsistent system of underlying principles.

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In open access from December 2017.


1 Introduction
2 Consistency and Completeness in Propositional Logic
3 Consistency and Completeness in Normative Systems
4 Normative Coherence

First lines

1 Introduction

‘Consistency’ and ‘completeness’ are age-old concepts which are traditionally related to logic and logical calculi. They have received a great elaboration and their mutual relations have been widely studied in the field of logic. They have also been extensively analyzed by legal dogmatics and analytical jurisprudence regarding their application to normative systems.

By contrast, ‘coherence’ is a relatively new concept, which has raised some issues in the epistemological and legal philosophical debate during the last decades. The intensional properties and the boundaries of this concept are quite blurry, and its relations with consistency and completeness are consequently uncertain.

The present paper, by elaborating on some notions of propositional calculus, aims at providing a basic reexamination of the notions of consistency, completeness, and coherence, when applied to the normative domain, and, on such a basis, elaborating on which mutual relations they have.

2 Consis...

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Bibliographical reference

Giovanni Battista Ratti and Jorge Luis Rodríguez, « On Coherence as a Formal Property of Normative Systems », Revus, 27 | 2015, 131-146.

Electronic reference

Giovanni Battista Ratti and Jorge Luis Rodríguez, « On Coherence as a Formal Property of Normative Systems », Revus [Online], 27 | 2015, Online since 10 December 2017, connection on 23 October 2017. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/revus.3291

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About the authors

Giovanni Battista Ratti

Professor in Legal Philosophy, Tarello Institute for Legal Philosophy, Department of Law, University of Genoa 

Giovanni Battista Ratti
Tarello Institute for Legal Philosophy
Via Balbi 30/18
16126 Genoa


Jorge Luis Rodríguez

Professor in Legal Theory, Faculty of Law, National University of Mar del Plata 

Jorge Luis Rodríguez
Rawson 318
Mar del Plata
Provincia de Buenos Aires


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