Constitutional interpretation: A view from a distance

Richard Peters*

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

    OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

    1 Citaat (Scopus)

    Samenvatting

    This paper explores how the notion of distance works in the practice of interpretation by studying the philosophical underpinnings of the originalism debate in American constitutionalism. Focusing on some of its most important spokespeople, the paper shows that they start from the historicist presupposition that distance can in principle be overcome by a reconstruction of the original intentions of the framers of the Constitution. With the help of Hans-Georg Gadamer, who explicitly based his philosophical hermeneutics on the notion of distance, this presupposition will be criticized. The paper concludes that the originalist and hermeneuticist positions do not mutually exclude each other, but can be synthesized if they are seen as different questions about the same text. The meaning of the Constitution is therefore not given but is dependent on the direction of the questions asked by the interpreter. From this question-dependency of meaning it follows that interpretation follows the law of acoustics: "Angle of incidence equates angle of reflection."

    Originele taal-2English
    Pagina's (van-tot)117-135
    Aantal pagina's19
    TijdschriftHistory and Theory
    Volume50
    Nummer van het tijdschrift4
    DOI's
    StatusPublished - dec-2011

    Citeer dit