Does legal semiotics cannibalize jurisprudence?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Does Duncan Kennedy successfully cannibalize jurisprudence? He attempts to do it by demonstrating the inexistence of rightness in legal argumentation. If there is no right legal argument, then there is no right answer in adjudication, adjudication is not a rational enterprise and legal doctrine cannot be said to be a science. It can be shown that skepticism is self-defeating. Duncan Kennedy can avoid self defeat only because he actually believes in a lot of legal arguments. His thesis that judges decide questions of policy without any methodology that distinguishes them from legislators does not hold. Judicial reasoning is subject to constraints that do not affect legislators. It must be based on the sources of law and is limited by rules of procedure. Even when the judges have 'interstitial' legislative powers they are, unlike the legislator, bound to fit the system and their decisions are considered in procedure from the perspective of the right answer doctrine. The only work that can convincingly refute the skeptic argument against legal science is the reconstruction of jurisprudence as a scientific enterprise. Such work is beyond the scope of any single paper. The article aims to give some inspirations for such a task.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-398
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal for the Semiotics of Law
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


  • Duncan Kennedy
  • Jurisprudence
  • Philosophy of law
  • Semiotics of law


Dive into the research topics of 'Does legal semiotics cannibalize jurisprudence?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this