Objectivity in Law

Objectivity in Law

Objectivity in Law

Objectivity in Law

Synopsis

This book addresses a central topic in contemporary jurisprudence, namely, whether it is possible for legal interpretations to be objective. The author argues that objectivity is possible in law, and grounds this possibility firmly in metaphysics, philosophy of mind and language, and meta-ethics. He then systematically explores the philosophical prejudices that have operated as sources of resistance to this possibility. These prejudices, once identified, help to illuminate fundamental debates in jurisprudence.

Excerpt

In this Chapter, I shall discuss an ontological objection that purports to block kp semantics in the legal domain. According to that objection, K-P semantics is plausible for expressions referring to concrete empirical objects; but legal expressions do not refer to any such objects, and should therefore be treated differently.

The absence of empirical 'counterparts' is among the fundamental semantic characteristics of legal concepts on the basis of which H. L. A. Hart launched his own sui generis legal semantics. This Chapter's further aim is to review Hart's own semantic framework and explore the question whether K-P semantics could account for what Hart perceived as important semantic aspects of legal concepts. I shall argue that K-P semantics better accounts for those aspects.

I shall begin by considering Hart's arguments. I shall then try to locate the general motivation underlying the view that K-P analysis should be restricted to expressions designating empirical objects. in section 2, I discuss Hart's key semantic theses: primarily that legal statements carry normative force, and that legal concepts are open-ended. I shall argue that Hart's account is marred by philosophical error: namely, by a bad conception of evaluation, and a prejudice to the effect that concepts' application can be governed only by incontrovertible, non-substantive conditions. I shall argue that Hart's semantics is unconnected with whether or not 'counterparts' to legal concepts exist. in section 3, I discuss the major target of Hart's semantic arguments -- reductionism -- and argue that K-P semantics is a far better anti-reductionist framework. in section 4, I shall try to explain the thought that the non-concrete nature of the objects of legal concepts makes them semantically special. I shall argue that that thought is confused, and I shall reconstruct it as the thought that mind-dependence of legal designata is semantically crucial.

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