A New Interpretivist Metasemantics for Fundamental Legal Disagreements

30 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2020 Last revised: 8 Jul 2020

See all articles by François Schroeter

François Schroeter

Department of Philosophy, University of Melbourne

Laura Schroeter

Department of Philosophy, University of Melbourne

Kevin Toh

University College London

Date Written: May 10, 2020

Abstract

What does it take for lawyers and others to think or talk about a same legal topic – e.g. defamation, culpability? We argue that people are able to think or talk about a same topic not when they possess a matching substantive understanding of the topic, as the traditional metasemantics says, but instead when their thoughts or utterances are related to each other in certain ways. And what determines the content of thoughts and utterances is what would best serve the core purposes of the representational practice within which the topic is located. In thus favoring a “relational model” in metasemantics, we share Ronald Dworkin’s goal of explaining fundamental legal disagreements, and also his reliance on constructive interpretation. But what we delineate is a far more general and explanatorily resourceful metasemantics than what Dworkin articulated, which also bypasses some controversial implications for the nature of law that Dworkin alleged.

Keywords: theoretical disagreements, metasemantics, Ronald Dworkin, legal positivism, natural law, constructive interpretation

Suggested Citation

Schroeter, François and Schroeter, Laura and Toh, Kevin, A New Interpretivist Metasemantics for Fundamental Legal Disagreements (May 10, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3597692 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3597692

François Schroeter

Department of Philosophy, University of Melbourne ( email )

United States

Laura Schroeter

Department of Philosophy, University of Melbourne ( email )

United States

Kevin Toh (Contact Author)

University College London ( email )

Gower St
London WC1E OEG, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

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