The Origins of Open Texture in Language and Legal Philosophies in Oxford and Cambridge
Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 2015
29 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2016
Date Written: August 31, 2015
The concept of open texture (OT) is often used without explanation of what it really means. I aim to shed some light on its philosophical and legal theoretical background, focusing solely on the pre-Hartian period. While this paper aims to dig more deeply into the concept than has previously been the case, it also examines philosophers’ life stories. I start with the history of the concept, beginning with legal philosopher Herbert Hart and delving back as far as the philosopher of science and language Friedrich Waismann. Certain other important scholars (J.L. Austin, Wittgenstein, McKinnon) from Oxford and Cambridge from the periods both before and after World War II are mentioned in the paper. Records such as in memoriam speeches form an important part of the story presented here. In any event, OT is an extremely important element of both legal practice and science nowadays. It does not matter who first hit upon this concept and it is likely that it cannot be attributed to any sole individual in any case. Hart was involved in the same academic environment and was influenced by J. L. Austin, while the philosophy of that time in the two English strongest philosophical academic communities was also deeply influenced by both the thought and the personality of Wittgenstein. The origins of OT are complicated and sophisticated.
Keywords: Open Texture, Waismann, Hart
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