Article

Legal Interpretation And The Philosophy Of Language

Brian H. Bix

in The Oxford Handbook of Language and Law

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199572120
Published online November 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199572120.013.0011

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

 Legal Interpretation And The Philosophy Of Language

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Linguistics
  • Translation and Interpretation
  • Forensic Linguistics

GO

Show Summary Details

Preview

Law is guidance through language, whether the language of statutes, judicial decisions, constitutional provisions, contracts, or wills. It is therefore not surprising that lawyers, judges, and legal commentators have sought whatever assistance they could find from other fields which deal with the meaning and interpretation of words: including literary theory, linguistics, and semiotics. Assistance has also been sought from philosophy of language, and the various philosophical writers on the deeper understanding of truth, meaning, and reference. However, at the end of the day, it is not clear that any of these searches have taught the legal profession useful new knowledge or methods of knowing. This article offers an overview of some of the attempts to use philosophy of language to alter or resolve questions of legal interpretation. It first considers the determinacy and indeterminacy of law, and then looks at H. L. A. Hart and the ‘open texture’ of language. The article also discusses intentionalism, originalism, textualism, and plain meaning with respect to interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, and concludes by outlining the links between politics, law, and philosophy.

Keywords: philosophy; language; legal interpretation; determinacy; indeterminacy; Hart; open texture; Constitution; politics; originalism

Article.  5295 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Translation and Interpretation ; Forensic Linguistics

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.