How to Speak the Truth
American Journal of Jurisprudence, Vol. 46, pp. 229-248, 2002
17 Pages Posted: 3 Jul 2008
Date Written: July 3, 2008
John Finnis began his book Natural Law and Natural Rights (1980) by explaining why legal philosophers need a sensitive understanding of the nature and uses of words. His argument can be extended. Lawyers need the same forms of understanding in order to use the language of the law. Finnis's basic methodological principles in jurisprudence, I will argue, offer elements of an account of the relation between the law and the language used by authorities to make law and to state the law. Some important problems in the theory of legal interpretation can be resolved with the techniques that Finnis uses to address a methodological problem in jurisprudence. Those techniques are useful in jurisprudence because they are general principles of the meaning of words.
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