Written Law as Words To Live By

Paul Dresch

in Legalism

Published in print November 2015 | ISBN: 9780198753810
Published online December 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780191815454 | DOI:

Series: Legalism

Written Law as Words To Live By

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Some societies seem lushly provided with explicit rules, others seem almost consciously to avoid them, and still others never found a use for them. There must always be rules of some kind, if only of language-use. Explicit rules, however, are of a different status. Usually prescriptive rules of the kind spelt out in law are analysed for what they do—for their practical ‘force’ or ‘weight’—but it seems worth asking what they say, in other words viewing them in terms of classification. Their form is also of interest. If any rule might, as Frederick Schauer contends, be rephrased as a conditional sentence, most laws have been phrased that way. The chapter discusses early European codes and pre-modern Yemen, then sketches cases of learned or complex legalism, before asking what the attraction of explicit rules might be. In comparative perspective, the ‘central case’ of latter-day municipal law looks decidedly odd.

Keywords: explicit rules; law; language; classification; conditionals

Chapter.  12007 words. 

Subjects: History of Law

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