Brian Bix

in Law, Language, and Legal Determinacy

Published in print November 1995 | ISBN: 9780198260509
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682100 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Paperbacks


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The following discussion is a collaboration of legal theory and philosophy. Misguided emphasis on legal interpretation distorts the understanding of law. In definition, legal law is an interpretation in aid of practical reasoning which is both influenced by and influences the distribution power among branches of government and between government and citizenry. Issues regarding this involve enquiries into the nature of language. Many other factors play significant roles in the legal process. The chapter first explains the relationship of language and law in answering the questions of legal determinacy and three approaches are presented: (1) the legal positivism of H.L.A. Hart saw language as a restricting agent on legal formalism that explains the judicial discretion, (2) the interpretative approach of Ronald Dworkin falls under the belief that any language-created problems could be circumvented, and (3) the metaphysical realism of Michael Moore reviewed language as a path to finding the correct result and held that temptation towards the wrong path must be overcome.

Keywords: legal theory; philosophy; legal interpretation; legal law; practical reasoning; language; legal determinacy; legal positivism; interpretative approach; metaphysical realism

Chapter.  2283 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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