Dalhousie Law Journal


adjudication, legal scholarship, jurisprudence, constitutional law, moral values, legal texts


In this century mainstream legal scholarship in the United States has been subjected to various "crises of confidence" over the nature of the adjudication process. One of the key features of more traditional legal scholarship has been a belief in legal texts such as the constitution, statutes and precedents which are said to possess discrete and objective meaning capable of being discovered by objective detached observers. This belief in the authority of the text has been most clearly expressed in American constitutional law scholarship which has been dominated until recently by the quest to reveal the public moral values that are said to inhere in the body of the constitutional document itself. With the insights of the Legal Realists into the subjective preferences of legal actors, the foundations of this belief were severely shaken. Much of the last fifty years has been spent trying to shore up the belief in the objective meaning of social norms derived from legal texts.