Different linguistic theories of meaning (semantic theories) imply different methods to discuss meaning. Discussing meaning is what legal practitioners frequently do to decide legal issues and, subsequently, legal scholars analyse in their studies these discursive practices of parties, judges and legal experts. Such scholarly analysis reveals a methodical choice on how to discuss meaning and therefore implies positioning oneself towards a semantic theory of meaning, whether the scholar is aware of this or not. Legal practitioners may not be bound to be consistent in their commitment to semantic theories, as their task is to decide legal issues. Legal scholars, however, should be consistent because commitment to a semantic theory implies a distinct position towards important legal theoretical doctrines. In this paper three examples are discussed that require an articulated position of the legal scholar because the discursive practices of legal practitioners show inconsistencies. For each of these examples it can be shown that a scholar’s methodic choice implies commitment to a specific semantic theory, and that adopting such a theory implies a distinct position towards the meaning of the Rule of Law, the separation of powers doctrine and the institutional position of the judge.
How to Cite:
van den Hoven, P., 2017. Analysing Discursive Practices in Legal Research: How a Single Remark Implies a Paradigm. Utrecht Law Review, 13(3), pp.56–64. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/ulr.407