Making Good Sense: Pragmatism's Mastery of Meaning, Truth, and Workable Rule of Law

Wake Forest Journal of Law and Policy (forthcoming)
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The hermeneutic pragmatism explored in this article timely examines how “post-truth” claims over-estimate semantic freedoms while at the same time underestimating semantic and pre-semantic restraints. Such pragmatism also timely examines how formalists err by committing the reverse errors. Drawing on insights from James, Peirce, Putnam, Rorty, Gadamer, Derrida, and others, such hermeneutic pragmatism explores (1) the necessary role of both internal and objective experience in meaning, (2) the resulting instrumental nature of concepts required to deal with such experience, (3) the related need for workability to apply to the “the collectivity of experience’s demands, nothing being omitted,” (4) the inherent role of morality and other norms in measuring such workability, (5) the semantic as well as experiential nature of our workable realities, (6) the semantic freedoms involved in constructing, framing, and retaining our workable realities and concepts, and (7) the semantic, pre-semantic, and other restraints on constructing, framing, and retaining our workable realities and concepts. Such hermeneutic pragmatism also introduces Eunomia, a real-world alternative to Dworkin’s superhuman judge Hercules. Named after the Greek goddess of good order, the human Eunomia represents the reasonable judge excellently versed in (among other things) legal theory, legal practice, linguistics, and philosophy of language. Additionally, in its appendices, this article surveys the pragmatic restraints of “implementives” and provides a detailed overview of pragmatic “workability” restraints for both law and fact. (By “sense” the title of this article means not only “meaning conveyed or intended” but also “capacity for effective application of the powers of the mind as a basis for action or response.” See Sense, MERRIAM-WEBSTER’S COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY (11th ed. 2014) “Workable” has the broad meaning discussed in Sections II, IV, and Appendix C of the Article, and "good" is further explored in the section on Eunomia, namesake of the Greek goddess of good order.) Keywords: Pragmatism, Hermeneutic, Truth, Rule of Law, William James, C.S. Peirce, Hilary Putnam, Richard Rorty, Gadamer, Habermas, Derrida, Lon Fuller, H.L.A. Hart, Post-truth, Postmodernism, Trump, Rhetoric, Meaning, Interpretation, Metaphor, Category, Lifeworld, Formalism, Framing, Deconstruction

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Harold Anthony Lloyd
Wake Forest University


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