Can Theories of Meaning and Reference Solve the Problem of Legal Determinacy?

17 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2008 Last revised: 22 Jan 2008

See all articles by Brian Bix

Brian Bix

University of Minnesota Law School


A number of important legal theorists have recently argued for metaphysically realist approaches to legal determinacy grounded in particular semantic theories or theories of reference, in particular, views of meaning and reference based on the works of Putnam and Kripke. The basic position of these theorists is that questions of legal interpretation and legal determinacy should be approached through semantic meaning. However, the role of authority (in the form of lawmaker choice) in law in general, and democratic systems in particular, require that these realist solutions to the problem of legal determinacy be rejected, or at least significantly revised.

Keywords: legal determinacy, semantic theories, Michael Moore

Suggested Citation

Bix, Brian, Can Theories of Meaning and Reference Solve the Problem of Legal Determinacy?. Ratio Juris, Vol. 16, No. 3, pp. 281-295, September 2003 , Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-01, Available at SSRN:

Brian Bix (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota Law School ( email )

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