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Article

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Abstract

The purpose of this Article is to introduce legal readers to the ideas of the French philosopher Jacques Derrida, and to his philosophical practices regarding the interpretation of texts, sometimes known as deconstruction. The term 'deconstruction' is much used in legal writings these days, and in this Article I propose to explain its philosophical underpinnings. Many persons who use the word 'deconstruction' regard it as no more than another expression for 'trashing,' that is, showing why legal *744 doctrines are self-contradictory, ideologically biased, or indeterminate. By the term 'deconstruction,' however, I do not have in mind merely stinging criticism, but specific techniques and philosophical ideas that Derrida and his followers have applied to various texts. These techniques often do involve teasing out the hidden antinomies in our language and thought, and that is primarily how I came to be interested in them. However, I hope to demonstrate that 'deconstruction, as I use the term, is not simply a fancy way of sticking out your tongue, but a practice that raises important philosophical issues for legal thinkers.

Date of Authorship for this Version

1987

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