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This essay addresses two problems in legal theory. What is the nature of rules, especially legal rules? What is the meaning of a legal rule?

My main concern is the relation between these two questions. I inquire whether a sensible view of how rules work commits one to any particular approach to meaning. For this inquiry, I focus on Frederick Schauer's illuminating treatment of rules in Playing by the Rules, which he says is linked to a particular view of meaning. I assert that the linkage is much less tight than he supposes, and that competing theories about meaning are compatible with his analysis. If I am right, someone's disagreement with Schauer over meaning should not produce rejection of his major points. However, approaches to meaning do have considerable practical significance for the law. Examining how views of meaning fit legal practice, I reject Schauer's strong literalism.


Law | Legal Theory