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Wittgenstein’s Conception of Language and Its Implication for Jurisprudence

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Wittgenstein’s Conception of Language and Its Implication for Jurisprudence.

ABSTRACT

The meaning of an expression, or relation between words in general language usage is ascertainable if the special use of language is  understood. A major criticism leveled  against  the language of law has been the idea that the language of law is indecipherable and barely understood by those outside the legal terrain.

Most of the criticisms range from the alleged incoherence nature of the language of  law,  the classified  nature of the language of the law,  and the technical/restricted nature of the language of law. In clearing these bugs of misconception from the eyes of the  critics,  this work explores  various ideas of Wittgenstein  in finding appropriate solutions. This becomes the thrust of this work.

In showing how Wittgenstein exonerates the language of law from these vilifying attacks, he thought that  a word has its meaning only within the context of its use in a language and,  its form  of life. From his language-game thesis which forms one of the major bedrock in understanding Wittgenstein’s language ideas, one would readily understand that in order to comprehend the language of law, one must participate in the language game of lawyers.

This is not a manipulation of language or of words. Participation in the  language  game  constitutes  a special way which enables one, within a language structure, and, with the assistance  of  the rules of the language, to understand the rational core of the designations of certain terminologies and concepts. In connection with law however, participation in the language- game allows one to be cognitive of the normative meaning of such designations.

INTRODUCTION

Not only does law constitute a language, but a very special kind of language, for it  is  an attempt to structure the realities of human behaviour through the use of words. Law must pattern human activity in such a way as to allow at least the  great preponderance of members  of the polity to meet their felt needs and express their most  deeply-held  values.

A  legal system must, therefore, provide some means  for peaceful change of the patterns of behaviour   it enforces so that it can continue, in an orderly fashion, to meet  the  changing  needs  and values of those who live under it. This work brings to light the crucial use of language in jurisprudence.  Not only does  the use of language crucial to philosophers of law, but in the special respect that lawmakers typically use language to make the law, and courts typically use language  to  state  their grounds of decision.

In this regard, philosophers of law need a good philosophical understanding of the meaning and use of language in order to address a seemingly pensive  issue in jurisprudence of which the language of law has been adjudged of being too technical, private and secluded from those it is meant to cover. In a bid to address this issue, different philosophers have theorized and brought about diverse opinions and views to assuage this uprising.

It was against this backdrop that the researcher, having in mind to remedy the situation, took-on the contributions of Ludwig Wittgenstein; a twentieth century analytic philosopher who arose and made his contributions to the philosophy of language in his two major works; Tractatus Logico Philosophicus  and  Philosophical Investigations.  He  made us to know in the latter that: “to understand a sentence means to understand a language.

REFERENCES

Akwanya, Amechi. Language and Habits of Thought, 2nd edition. Enugu: New Generation Books, 2005.

Aristotle, Metaphysics, ed. David Ross. Mobi Classics Series, 2009.

Austin, L. John. How to do Things with Words. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962. Bentham, Jeremy. Of Laws in General. ed. London: Athione Press, 1970.

Cross, Rupert and Harris, J.W. Precedent in English Law. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991.

Camap, Rudolf. The Logical Structure of the World, Trans. R. George. Chicago: Open Court Classics, 2003.

CSN Team. 

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