Following legal rules: Visibility and feasibility

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


    This paper reflects on the idea of ‘visualization’ of legal rules as part of an account of rule following in action. Presenting an alternative to Van Schooten’s (Jurisprudence and communication. Deborah Charles, Liverpool, 2012) account of interpretation, I first distinguish between two modes of interpretation: rehearsing and discursive. I argue that the former is the more basic one, relating to our respecting sources, rather than noticing signs, in action. In other (Wittgensteinian) words, we have to understand how we take guidance from rules. This account can profit from an analysis of what ‘seeing’ amounts to. Taking my cue from Merleau-Ponty, I point to the intertwinement between agent and world in seeing, in rule-following, and eventually in legal rule-following. The proof of the pudding is an alternative account of the time-honoured paradigm of legal interpretation: Hart’s ‘no vehicles in the park’. I show how this example is predicated on detecting ‘depth-clues’ in a rule, which allow an agent to correlate his vantage point to a vanishing point of a rule. The example illustrates a key-feature of rule following: reflexivity. I cannot follow a rule unless I project myself into its picture.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)485-494
    JournalInternational Journal for the Semiotics of Law = Revue internationale de Sémiotique juridique
    Issue number3
    Early online date4 Jan 2014
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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