The functionality of conceptual terms in international law and international legal discourse
European Journal of Legal Studies, 2013, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 27-50
LINDERFALK, Ulf, The functionality of conceptual terms in international law and international legal discourse, European Journal of Legal Studies, 2013, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 27-50 - https://hdl.handle.net/1814/30539
Retrieved from Cadmus, EUI Research Repository
Investigating the meaning of conceptual terms is an important task for legal scholars. Traditionally, the meaning of conceptual terms has been analyzed by reference to what those terms describe, namely a relationship between, on the one hand, the particular properties identifying a particular phenomenon or state of affairs as belonging to the extension of a concept, and on the other hand, the legally relevant inferences ensuing from the categorization. While this theory works reasonably well as long as studies are confined to the meaning of conceptual terms in law, it is ill-suited for any similar study of international legal discourse. In the search for workable alternatives, this essay adopts a different approach. It equates the meaning of a conceptual term with its functionality, ie with what the uttering of a conceptual term potentially does to the beliefs, attitudes, and behaviour of participants in a legal discourse. The essay illustrates the many important further implications of this theory of meaning for the analysis of international legal discourse.
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