•  38
    How do legal texts determine legal content? A standard answer to this question—sometimes called “the standard picture”—is that legal texts communicate something and what they communicate is identical to legal content. Mark Greenberg criticizes the standard picture and offers in its place his own “moral impact theory.” My goal here is to respond to Greenberg by showing how the standard picture better explains legal practice than the moral impact theory does. To that end, I first clarify certain a…Read more
  •  33
    Explaining legal agreement
    Jurisprudence 14 (2): 221-253. 2023.
    Legal theorists tend to focus on disagreement over the law, and yet a theory of law should also explain why lawyers and judges agree on the law as often as they do. To that end, this article first pins down a precise sense in which there can be pervasive agreement on the law. It then argues that such agreement obtains in the United States and likely in many other jurisdictions as well. Finally, it contends that Hartian Positivism offers a straightforward explanation of this phenomenon and, indee…Read more
  •  24
    Metalinguistic Negotiation in Legal Speech
    Law and Philosophy 42 (5): 487-524. 2023.
    This paper examines the role of metalinguistic negotiation in lawyers’ and judges’ speech about the law. A speaker engages in metalinguistic negotiation when the speaker uses a term to advocate for what that term should mean or how it should be used relative to context. While I doubt that legal practitioners employ metalinguistic negotiation in the ways that David Plunkett and Tim Sundell have proposed, it is plausible that practitioners do so in another way. Specifically, I contend that lawyers…Read more
  •  18
    Ronald Dworkin’s argument from theoretical disagreement remains a pressing challenge for legal positivists. In this paper, I show how positivists can answer Dworkin’s argument without having to attribute confusion or disingenuity to legal officials. I propose that the argument rests on two errors. The first is to assume that positivism requires legal officials to converge on precise grounds of law when convergence on more general grounds will do. The second is to construe judicial speech too lit…Read more