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University at Buffalo School of Law

Jurisprudence

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Full-Text Articles in Legal History

Institutions And Linguistic Conventions: The Pragmatism Of Lieber's Legal Hermeneutics, Guyora Binder Jan 1995

Institutions And Linguistic Conventions: The Pragmatism Of Lieber's Legal Hermeneutics, Guyora Binder

Journal Articles

This article presents Francis Lieber’s 1839 treatise “Legal and Political Hermeneutics” as a surprisingly modern and pragmatic account of interpretation. It first explicates the two most important influences on Liber’s thought, the romantic philology of Friedrich Schleiermacher, and the institutional positivism of Whig jurists Story and Kent. It shows that both of these sources frankly acknowledged that interpretation is an institutional practice, organized by the evolving aims and customs of the institutions within which it took place. Both tended to view the writing and reading of texts as the deployment of linguistic conventions. Both movements thereby viewed meaning ...