Francis Joseph (Jay) Mootz, III, is publishing Hermeneutics and Law in The Blackwell Companion to Hermeneutics (Naill Keane and Chris Lawn, eds.; 2015). Here is the abstract.
This chapter will appear in a forthcoming book on hermeneutics. After providing a hermeneutical phenomenology of legal practice that locates legal interpretation at the center of the rule of law, the chapter considers three important hermeneutical themes:Download the essay from SSRN at the link.
(1) the critical distinction between a legal historian writing aboout a law in the past and a judge deciding a case according to the law;
(2) the reinvigoration of the natural law tradition against the reductive characteristics of legal positivism by construing human nature as hermeneutical; and
(3) the role of philosophical hermeneutics in grounding critical legal theory rather than serving as a quiescent acceptance of the status quo, as elaborated by reconsidering the famous exchanges between Gadamer, Ricoeur and Habermas.
I argue that these three important themes are sufficient to underwrite Gadamer's famous assertion that legal practice has exemplary status for hermeneutical theory.