Quasi-expressivism about statements of law: A Hartian theory

Book chapter

Finlay, Stephen and Plunkett, David. (2018). Quasi-expressivism about statements of law: A Hartian theory. In In J. Gardner, L. Green and B. Leiter (Ed.). Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Law Volume 3 pp. 49 - 86 Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780198828174.003.0002
AuthorsFinlay, Stephen and Plunkett, David
EditorsJ. Gardner, L. Green and B. Leiter

Speech and thought about what the law is commonly function in practical ways to guide or assess behavior. These functions have often been seen as problematic for legal positivism in the tradition of H.L.A. Hart. One recent response is an expressivist analysis of legal statements. This paper advances a rival, positivist-friendly account of legal statements which the authors call “quasi-expressivist”. It combines a descriptivist, “rule-relational” semantics with a pragmatic account of the expressive and practical functions of legal discourse. This approach is at least as well-equipped as expressivism to explain the practical features of “internal” legal statements and a fundamental kind of legal disagreement, while handling better “external” legal statements. The chapter develops this theory in a Hartian framework, and also argues (against Kevin Toh’s expressivist interpretation) that Hart’s own views in The Concept of Law are best reconstructed along quasi-expressivist lines.

Keywordslegal semantics; legal pragmatics; quasi-expressivism; H.L.A. Hart; legal disagreement; internal statements of law; external statements of law; legal positivism; metalegal expressivism
Page range49 - 86
Book titleOxford Studies in Philosophy of Law Volume 3
PublisherOxford University Press
Place of publicationUnited Kingdom
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780198828174.003.0002
Research GroupDianoia Institute of Philosophy
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