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The Practice of Hermeneutics: The Legal Text and Beyond

George H. Taylor


This article attempts to show the continuing practical relevance of hermeneutics through the example of legal interpretation. The article begins with the very concrete nature of legal hermeneutics that forms everyday legal practice—the interrelation of meaning and application— and expands at a more theoretical to show how legal hermeneutics, and hermeneutics more generally, offers what Ricoeur calls an interpretive “choice in favor of meaning.” The choice in favor of meaning underscores the restorative character of hermeneutics that legal hermeneutics can epitomize. The article concludes with some of the challenges facing contemporary legal hermeneutics.


Ricoeur; Gadamer; hermeneutics; legal hermeneutics; critical hermeneutics

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