In the Beginning Was the Word: Paradigms of Language and Normativity in Law, Philosophy, and Theology
NYU School of Law - Straus Institute for the Advanced Study of Law and Justice; University of Haifa - Faculty of Law; Yale Law School
Mountbatten Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 5, 2001
This essay attempts to delineate, trace, and reconstruct the main features of three interacting language paradigms significant in legal discourse, practice and theory: rhetoric, representationalism, and performativity. The examples discussed are narratives of institutionalized and customary law that share linguistic attributes with literary forms and theological puzzles. Law, as a complex linguistic activity, is thus placed in a long tradition of linguistic theory ranging from Plato and Protagoras to Wittgenstein, Austin and the linguistic turn (Sapir-Whorf); as well as supernatural uses of law, exercised both by divine fiat and lesser practices - namely the linguistic aspects of magic - especially in determining rights and settling disputes.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 34
Keywords: legal language, rhetoric, performativity, theology, representationalism, linguistic turn and law, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, law and magic
Date posted: December 14, 2006