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Philosophy of Law$
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Andrei Marmor

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691141671

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691141671.001.0001

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The Language of Law

The Language of Law

(p.136) Chapter Six The Language of Law
Philosophy of Law

Andrei Marmor

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on the role of language and interpretation in understanding the content of the law. The argument here is motivated by Dworkin's argument that we can never grasp what the law says without interpretation. Since, as he argues, interpretation is partly, but necessarily, an evaluative matter, understanding what the law requires is necessarily dependent on some evaluative considerations. It is argued that this conception of what it takes to understand a legal directive is based on a misunderstanding of language and linguistic communication. The chapter attempts to clarify some of the semantic and pragmatic aspects of what the law says. It shows that when linguistic considerations are taken into account in the appropriate ways, interpretation becomes the exception, not the standard form of understanding what the law says. It also shows how certain pragmatic aspects of understanding a speech situation can be used to clarify the distinction between understanding what the law says and interpreting it. This last chapter completes a defense of a fairly strong detachment view about the nature of law, both in method and substance.

Keywords:   language, interpretation, legal philosophy, law, detachment

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