Authenticity, Ontology, and Natural History: Some Reflections on Musical and Legal Interpretation

Forthcoming, Lisa Crawford, Patrick Emerton, & Dale Smith (eds.), Law Under a Democratic Constitution: Essays in Honour of Jeffrey Goldsworthy (Oxford: Hart Publishing).

30 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2018  

Kevin Toh

University College London

Date Written: July 16, 2018

Abstract

This paper is an attempt to exploit a set of analogies between music and law. Both the originalist movement in law and the so-called period instrument movement in classical music gathered momentum in earnest in the late 1970’s and the early 1980’s. And both were reactions to earlier traditions of interpretation, in law and music respectively, the traditions that the partisans of the new movements deemed insufficiently faithful to the objects of interpretation. “Authenticity” is a term that musicians and critics often use to talk about the ideal of fidelity in musical performance. Importantly, what kinds of performances count as authentic depends on what properties are constitutive of musical works. The legal analogue of this relation, I believe, should help us to think carefully about originalism, which involves a particular way of conceiving the ideal of authenticity or fidelity in legal interpretation.

Keywords: legal interpretation, constitutional interpretation, musical interpretation, originalism, authenticity

Suggested Citation

Toh, Kevin, Authenticity, Ontology, and Natural History: Some Reflections on Musical and Legal Interpretation (July 16, 2018). Forthcoming, Lisa Crawford, Patrick Emerton, & Dale Smith (eds.), Law Under a Democratic Constitution: Essays in Honour of Jeffrey Goldsworthy (Oxford: Hart Publishing). . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3214890

Kevin Toh (Contact Author)

University College London ( email )

Gower St
London WC1E OEG, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

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