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INTERPRETATION OF STATUTES- CHAPTER 5 THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS Eskridge: Legisprudence- the jurisprudence (the philosophy (the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality and existence) of law) of interpreting legislation. Hermeneutics- the science of understanding, or more specifically as the theory of the interpretation of texts. It is the art of understanding the techniques, methods or approaches used to interpret texts. Derived from the greek- hermeneuein which means to interpret which is in turn derived from the name hermes, the messenger god of ancient Greece who had to explain the messengers of the gods to the mortals on earth. NORMATIVE- DERIVING FROM THE SAME THING, NORM. Germen philosophers- Dilthey (it was only during the second half of the nineteenth century that hermeneutics as a general method of understanding for the human sciences gained prominence) Scholars of hermeneutics emphasised that words and phrases do not have inherent meaning, but that meaning is derived from the total structure of the language, including the context in which the language is used. Perhaps the greatest contribution made by the hermeneutical theory is the role of the interpreter during the interpretation process, and that the science of understanding is not a mechanical exercise, but also involves value judgements. Interpreters of legislation inevitably have to exercise a judicial discretion. The influence of certain modern critical thinkers: *there are numerous, sometimes overlapping theoretical approaches to statutory interpretation (eg: textualism,purposivism, intentionalism or original intent theory etc ) Critical legal scholars reject the formalist ( excessive adherence to prescribed forms) position that the law is rational, objective and neutral. They argue that not all law is rational: it is subjective and ideological ( system of beliefs forming a political system). POSTMODERNISM Modern theoretical schools of thought study and examine the law together with other disciplines such as economics, political science, linguistics, philosophy, literature, and so on. It is not a school of thought but rather an intellectual style or a condition or a spirit of the times. Postmodernism accepts that everything is relative, and in the process it welcomes
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problems, paradoxes (inconsistencies) and contradictions. As a result it defies a complete definition because postmodernism rejects preconceived ideas, definitions and categories. Postmodernism rejects the idea that classifications and categories can be correct and final. And the notions of both objectivity and subjectivity are questioned; ultimately everything including knowledge is relative, temporary and incomplete. TWO POSTEMODERN THEORIES WITH REGARDS TO INTERPRETATION THE CRITICAL LEGAL STUDIES MOVEMENT The critical legal studies movement originated in reaction to the inability of liberalism (favourable to a person’s rights and freedoms) to solve the social problems such as poverty, racism, pluralism (a state or system in which a number of groups co-exist) and oppression. In
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