Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access JSTOR through your library or other institution:

login

Log in through your institution.

Journal Article

CONSTITUTIONAL INTERPRETATION: A VIEW FROM A DISTANCE

RIK PETERS
History and Theory
Vol. 50, No. 4, THEME ISSUE 50: Historical Distance: Reflections on a Metaphor (December 2011), pp. 117-135
Published by: Wiley for Wesleyan University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41342625
Page Count: 19
Were these topics helpful?
See something inaccurate? Let us know!

Select the topics that are inaccurate.

Cancel
  • Subscribe ($19.50)
  • Add to My Lists
  • Cite this Item
CONSTITUTIONAL INTERPRETATION: A VIEW FROM A DISTANCE
Preview not available

Abstract

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."

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
[117]
    [117]
  • Thumbnail: Page 
118
    118
  • Thumbnail: Page 
119
    119
  • Thumbnail: Page 
120
    120
  • Thumbnail: Page 
121
    121
  • Thumbnail: Page 
122
    122
  • Thumbnail: Page 
123
    123
  • Thumbnail: Page 
124
    124
  • Thumbnail: Page 
125
    125
  • Thumbnail: Page 
126
    126
  • Thumbnail: Page 
127
    127
  • Thumbnail: Page 
128
    128
  • Thumbnail: Page 
129
    129
  • Thumbnail: Page 
130
    130
  • Thumbnail: Page 
131
    131
  • Thumbnail: Page 
132
    132
  • Thumbnail: Page 
133
    133
  • Thumbnail: Page 
134
    134
  • Thumbnail: Page 
135
    135