Public Law

Authored by: Martin Loughlin , Samuel Tschorne

Routledge Handbook of Interpretive Political Science

Print publication date:  July  2015
Online publication date:  July  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415657143
eBook ISBN: 9781315725314
Adobe ISBN: 9781317533627


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In law, interpretivism refers to a diverse family of theoretical approaches founded on the central category of meaning. It maintains that the phenomenon of law cannot adequately be grasped by imitating the methods of the natural sciences. Interpretivism covers such a broad range because law itself is widely recognized to be an interpretive practice. Given the potential range of inquiry, we offer a synthetic overview by distinguishing between three contemporary varieties of legal interpretivism: descriptivist, normativist, and phenomenological. Each postulates a particular conception of law and adopts a distinctive methodological framework. These three varieties are examined in the sections that follow and they are illustrated through analysis of the ideas of leading legal theorists working mainly within the Anglo-American tradition.

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