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The Nature of Legal InterpretationWhat Jurists Can Learn about Legal Interpretation from Linguistics and Philosophy$
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Brian G. Slocum

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226445021

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226445168.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
The Nature of Legal Interpretation

Brian G. Slocum

University of Chicago Press

This chapter is an overview of the book. The arrangement of the chapters in this book represent various points on the spectrum of interdisciplinary contributions to legal interpretation, with perhaps the later chapters manifesting a more ambitious role for interdisciplinary scholarship in legal interpretation theory. To be sure, descriptive accounts of language and interpretation have the potential to impact legal interpretation in profound ways. Interdisciplinary scholars can significantly contribute to legal interpretation by exploring the ways in which the nature and structure of language interposes on legal discourse, and by describing whether legal interpretation accounts for the nature of language in valid and accurate ways. Yet, readers of this book should also consider whether scholars that bring a perspective from another discipline might legitimately and productively use their expertise to offer accounts of legal interpretation that are more normative in nature. If the answer is “no,” there will nevertheless remain a considerable area in which interdisciplinary insights should be relevant to legal interpretation. If the answer is “yes,” the possibilities of interdisciplinary insights to legal interpretation are significant indeed, and greater than many have imagined.

Keywords:   linguistics, legal interpretation, constitutional interpretation, law and language, statutory interpretation, semantics, pragmatics, Grice, Gadamer

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