Social Conventions: From Language to Law

Princeton University Press
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Social conventions are those arbitrary rules and norms governing the countless behaviors all of us engage in every day without necessarily thinking about them, from shaking hands when greeting someone to driving on the right side of the road. In this book, Andrei Marmor offers a pathbreaking and comprehensive philosophical analysis of conventions and the roles they play in social life and practical reason, and in doing so challenges the dominant view of social conventions first laid out by David Lewis.

Marmor begins by giving a general account of the nature of conventions, explaining the differences between coordinative and constitutive conventions and between deep and surface conventions. He then applies this analysis to explain how conventions work in language, morality, and law. Marmor clearly demonstrates that many important semantic and pragmatic aspects of language assumed by many theorists to be conventional are in fact not, and that the role of conventions in the moral domain is surprisingly complex, playing mostly an auxiliary and supportive role. Importantly, he casts new light on the conventional foundations of law, arguing that the distinction between deep and surface conventions can be used to answer the prevalent objections to legal conventionalism.

Social Conventions is a much-needed reappraisal of the nature of the rules that regulate virtually every aspect of human conduct.

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About the author

Andrei Marmor is the Maurice Jones Jr. Professor of Law and a professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California. His books include Law in the Age of Pluralism and Interpretation and Legal Theory.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jul 6, 2009
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Pages
200
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ISBN
9781400831654
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
Philosophy / Free Will & Determinism
Philosophy / Language
Philosophy / Political
Social Science / Customs & Traditions
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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The close connection between philosophy of language and philosophy of law has been recognized for decades through the work of many influential legal philosophers. This volume brings recent advances in philosophy of language to bear on contemporary debates about the nature of law and legal interpretation. The book builds on recent work in pragmatics and speech-act theory to explain how, and to what extent, legal content is determined by linguistic considerations. At the same time, the analysis shows that some of the unique features of communication in the legal domain - in particular, its strategic nature - can be employed to put pressure on certain assumptions in philosophy of language. This enables a more nuanced picture of how semantic and pragmatic determinants of communication work in complex and large-scale systems such as law. Chapters build on explanations of key elements of statutory language, such as the distinction between what is said and what is implicated, the possibility of ascribing truth-values to legal prescriptions and the structure of legal inferences, the various forms of vagueness in the law, the distinctions between vagueness, ambiguity, and polysemy in legal language, and the distinction between concept and conceptions, mostly in the context of constitutional interpretation. The book demonstrates that paying close attention to the kind of speech acts legal directives are, and how they determine the content of the law, enables a better understanding of the boundaries between normative and linguistic determinants of legal content.
Law in the Age of Pluralism contains a collection of essays on the intersection of legal and political philosophy. Written within the analytical tradition in jurisprudence, the collection covers a wide range of topics, such as the nature of law and legal theory, the rule of law, the values of democracy and constitutionalism, moral aspects of legal interpretation, the nature of rights, economic equality, and more. The essays in this volume explore issues where law, morality and politics meet, and discuss some of the key challenges facing liberal democracies. Marmor posits that a liberal state must first and foremost respect people's personal autonomy and their differing, though reasonable, conceptions of the good and the just. This basic respect for pluralism is shown to entail a rather skeptical attitude towards grand theories of law and state, such as contemporary constitutionalism or Dworkin's conception of 'law as integrity'. The values of pluralism and respect for autonomy, however, are also employed to justify some of the main aspects of a liberal state, such as the value of democracy, the rule of law, and certain conceptions of equality. The essays are organized in three groups: the first considers the rule of law, democracy and constitutionalism. The second group consists of several essays on the nature of law, legal theory, and their relations to morality. Finally, the collection concludes with essays on the nature of rights, the limits of rights discourse, and the value of economic equality.
Law in the Age of Pluralism contains a collection of essays on the intersection of legal and political philosophy. Written within the analytical tradition in jurisprudence, the collection covers a wide range of topics, such as the nature of law and legal theory, the rule of law, the values of democracy and constitutionalism, moral aspects of legal interpretation, the nature of rights, economic equality, and more. The essays in this volume explore issues where law, morality and politics meet, and discuss some of the key challenges facing liberal democracies. Marmor posits that a liberal state must first and foremost respect people's personal autonomy and their differing, though reasonable, conceptions of the good and the just. This basic respect for pluralism is shown to entail a rather skeptical attitude towards grand theories of law and state, such as contemporary constitutionalism or Dworkin's conception of 'law as integrity'. The values of pluralism and respect for autonomy, however, are also employed to justify some of the main aspects of a liberal state, such as the value of democracy, the rule of law, and certain conceptions of equality. The essays are organized in three groups: the first considers the rule of law, democracy and constitutionalism. The second group consists of several essays on the nature of law, legal theory, and their relations to morality. Finally, the collection concludes with essays on the nature of rights, the limits of rights discourse, and the value of economic equality.
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