Fuller and Language

Rediscovering Fuller: Essays on Implicit Law and Institutional Design, edited by W. J. Witteveen and W. van der Burg, 453-78. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 1999

26 Pages Posted: 17 Jun 2015

See all articles by Joseph Vining

Joseph Vining

University of Michigan Law School

Date Written: 1999

Abstract

A sense of law builds on a sense of language, but the experience of law can inform an understanding of language. Work on the relationship between law and language developed markedly in the second half of the Twentieth Century. Behind that development lies the work of Lon Fuller, known today principally for his critique of positivism in jurisprudence. In 1930, Fuller took up the problem of language in a series of articles. Toward the end of his time he republished this initial ground-establishing effort as a book, Legal Fictions, with a new introduction, and republished also his 1940 book, The Law in Quest of Itself, which is something of a companion to it. His concern with language as such, and with what a lawyer might be able to say to a linguist or a scientist about it, thus brackets his work. The rediscovery of the linguistic part of Fuller's contribution and of Fuller's challenge to look at language and see what it tells -- if rediscovery it be rather than acknowledgment of influence -- bears on current issues in law and beyond law.

Keywords: language, interpretation, meaning, rules, legal fictions, totalitarianism, democracy, linguistics, individual, person, games, authenticity, belief, authority, jurisprudence, evasion, mind, realism, literalism, judging, Fuller

JEL Classification: K1

Suggested Citation

Vining, Joseph, Fuller and Language (1999). Rediscovering Fuller: Essays on Implicit Law and Institutional Design, edited by W. J. Witteveen and W. van der Burg, 453-78. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 1999. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2619353

Joseph Vining (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States

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