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Towards a Linguistic Criticism of Legal Hegemony: Some remarks on ‘Bentham v. Judges and Co.

Abstract : Bentham’s hatred of the major elements of the legal culture of his times is legendary. He thoroughly criticised the notions of natural law and social contract that were at the roots of Blackstone’s legal doctrine as so many fictions. His criticism also centred, in a more technical manner, on several fictions that belonged to the ordinary legal reasoning of the common lawyers. Substantive fictions such as the crime of grand larceny and procedural fictions such as the procedure of ejectment were everyday fare for legal practitioners. By unveiling how these fictions, understood as linguistic devices, operated, Bentham highlighted how they contributed to debase the law’s addressee’s practical reasoning in order to reinforce her subjection to the class of jurists. His contempt for artificial (but purposeful) legal technicalities allows to understand how full blown the hermeneutics of suspicion he developed against the hegemony of legalism (which will sound familiar to Marxists) was. Nevertheless, one cannot help concluding that Bentham might have been the very victim of the power structure he fought.
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Submitted on : Monday, June 14, 2021 - 5:42:28 PM
Last modification on : Friday, July 30, 2021 - 9:08:17 AM

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Guillaume Tusseau. Towards a Linguistic Criticism of Legal Hegemony: Some remarks on ‘Bentham v. Judges and Co.. Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, Cambridge University Press (CUP), 2019, 32 (1), pp.173 - 194. ⟨10.1017/cjlj.2019.8⟩. ⟨hal-03260289⟩

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