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Public Law and Legal Theory

2010

Constitutional Theory

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The Constitutional Canon As Argumentative Metonymy, Ian C. Bartrum Jan 2010

The Constitutional Canon As Argumentative Metonymy, Ian C. Bartrum

Ian C Bartrum

This article builds on Philip Bobbitt's Wittgensteinian insights into constitutional argument and law. I examine the way that we interact with canonical texts as we construct arguments in the forms that Bobbitt has described. I contend that these texts serve as metonyms for larger sets of associated principles and values, and that their invocation usually is not meant to point to the literal meaning of the text itself. This conception helps explain how a canonical text's meaning in constitutional argument can evolve over time, and hopefully offers the creative practitioner some insight into the kinds of arguments that ...