How to Speak the Truth

American Journal of Jurisprudence 46 (1):229-248 (2001)
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Argues that some important problems in the theory of legal interpretation can be resolved with three techniques that John Finnis used in Natural Law and Natural Rights to address a methodological problem in jurisprudence: (1) The analogy principle: The application of a word such as “friendship” or “law” is not based on a set of features shared by each instance, but is based on similarities of a variety of kinds, seen by the people who use the words as justifying the extension of the word. (2) The paradigm (or central case) principle: You cannot understand a word like “friendship” or “law” without seeing what counts as a good instance of friendship or law. (3) The context principle: What counts as a good instance depends on the context in which the word is to be used, and on the concerns and purposes which justify the use of the word.



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Timothy Endicott
Oxford University

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