LAW214-LAWS805_TBa_45-86.pdf

There is the sting we are marked as its target by too

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There is the sting: we are marked as its target by too crude a picture of what disagreement is or must be like. AN IMAGINARY EXAMPLE X The Interpretive Attitude Perhaps this picture of what makes disagreement possible is too crude to capture any disagreement, even one about books. But I shall argue only that it is not exhaustive and, in particular, that it does not hold in an important set of cir - cumstances that includes theoretical argument in law. It does not hold when members of particular communities who share practices and traditions make and dispute claims about the best interpretation of these ^when they disagree, that is, about what some tradition or practice actually re - quires in concrete circumstances. These claims are often controversial, and the disagreement is genuine even though people use different criteria in forming or framing these in - terpretations; it is genuine because the competing interpre - tations are directed toward the same objects or events of interpretation. I shall try to show how this model helps us to ^
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INTERPRETIVE CONCEPTS 47 understand legal argument more thoroughly and to see the role of law in the larger culture more clearly. But first it will be useful to see how the model holds for a much simpler in - stitution. Imagine the following history of an invented community. Its members follow a set of rules, which they call rules of courtesy, on a certain range of social occasions. "Qiey say, Courtesy requires that peasants take off their hats to nobil - ity, for example, and they urge and accept other proposi - tions of that sort. For a time this practice has the character of taboo: the rules are just there and are neither questioned nor varied. But then, perhaps slowly, all this changes. Everyone develops a complex “interpretive attitude toward the rules of courtesy, an attitude that has two components. The first is the assumption that the practice of courtesy does not simply exist but has value, that it serves some interest or purpose or enforces some principle— in short, that it has some point that can be stated independently of just describing the rules that make up the practice. The second is the further as- sumption that the requirements of courtesy— the behavior it calls for or judgments it warrants are not necessarily or ex- clusively what they have always been taken to be but are in - stead sensitive to its point, so that the strict rules must be understood or applied or extended or modified or qualified or limited by that point. Once this interpretive attitude takes hold, the institution of courtesy ceases to be mechani - cal; it is no longer unstudied deference to a runic order. Peo- ple now try to impose meaning on the institution to see it in its best light ^and then to restructure it in the light of that meaning.
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