Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date



Gregory Leyh has edited a volume of essays commissioned “to examine the intersections between contemporary legal theory and the foundations of interpretation” as explored in contemporary hermeneutics. The essays are diverse and multidisciplinary, but each sheds light on perplexing issues of legal interpretation that have exhausted commentators in recent years. The contributors share a broad agreement that we must reject the picture of law as an autonomous, insulated discourse and instead must regard legal discourse as one of many interrelated practices rooted in our character as interpretive beings.

Each contributor addressees the central concerns defined by the leading philosopher of hermeneutics, Hans-Georg Gadamer : What are “the irreducible conditions of human understanding” and what do these conditions tell us about the grounds of judgment?

Minor criticism aside, the volume is an excellent addition to the literature. The essays uniformly provide rewarding reading for scholars, and many of the essays are suitable reading for a jurisprudence seminar. Although Gadamer’s view of interpretation as something other than a rule-governed, methodologically defined practice figures prominently in the volume, Leyh selected the essays to reveal the contested nature of many issues raised by Gadamer. The essays do not define a single strategy of legal interpretation so much as they delineate the issues of concern and suggest a more productive vocabulary for addressing these issues.

Publication Citation

47 Vand. L. Rev. 115 (1994)