As Time Goes by: Hermeneutics and Originalism
22 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2010 Last revised: 28 Aug 2010
Date Written: August 23, 2010
What is the continuing relevance of hermeneutics to legal theory in general and to constitutional theory in particular if we are all originalists now? Both seem to be vital despite the decline of interest in hermeneutics recently. This article argues for the continuing relevance of hermeneutics to both fields because of the centrality of issues of application and practical reasoning in both. Law seeks for find the meaning of texts applied over time; legal texts are truly letters of transit. That we are all originalists, yet still have the same sort of interpretive debates we have always had, only indicates the continuing need to work on hermeneutic questions of application and practical reasoning. These issues are explored in the context of the Dworkin/Scalia discussion of the distinction between expectation and semantic originalism.
Keywords: originaism, hermeneutics, constitutional theory, legal interpretation
JEL Classification: K10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation