Constraining Adjudication: An Inquiry into the Nature of W. Baude’s and S. Sachs’ Law of Interpretation



W. Baude’s and S.E. Sachs’s paper entitled “The Law of Interpretation” is a fascinating survey of a plethora of cases from the American common law system. The main conclusion of the article is extremely interesting from both philosophical and practical points of view. Namely, the authors claim that there exists something additional in the law that has not been identified before, and this is the law of interpretation. This law of interpretation is claimed to be a set of both written and unwritten rules, including the canons of construction. However, a closer look at the examples provided by Baude and Sachs throughout their paper proves some nonhomogenous nature of the unwritten rules of the law of interpretation. I claim that this nonhomogeneity comes precisely from different, more fundamental facts to which these unwritten rules of interpretation are related. Moreover, I argue that the elements of the law of interpretation that are indeed incorporated into the law are in fact scarce, and I investigate the reasons for this state of affairs. Two main reasons are analyzed—the nature of context and the structure of all-things-considered moral arguments.


Legal interpretation Canons of construction Context Background Legal rules 



This research was funded by grant no 2018/30/M/HS5/00254 (Harmonia, Polish National Centre for Science).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jagiellonian University, Department of Legal Theory, Jagiellonian Centre for Law, Language and PhilosophyCracowPoland

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