Limited ink : interpreting and misinterpreting GÜdel's incompleteness theorem in legal theory

Abstract

This thesis explores the significance of Godel's Theorem for an understanding of law as rules, and of legal adjudication as rule-following. It argues that Godel's Theorem, read through Wittgenstein's understanding of rules and language as a contextual activity, and through Derrida's account of 'undecidability,' offers an alternative account of the relationship of judging to justice. Instead of providing support for the 'indeterminacy' claim, Godel's Theorem illuminates the predicament of undecidability that structures any interpretation and every legal decision, and which constitutes the opening to justice. The first argument in this thesis examines Godel's proof, Wittgenstein's views on rules, and Derrida's undecidability, as manifestations of a common concern with the limits of what can be formalized. The meta-argument examines their misinterpretation and misappropriation within legal theory as a case study of just what they mean about meaning, context, and justice as necessarily co-implicated.

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References found in this work

What The Tortoise Said To Achilles.Lewis Carroll - 1895 - Mind 104 (416):691-693.
What is Cantor's Continuum Problem?Kurt Gödel - 1947 - Journal of Symbolic Logic 13 (2):176--187.
Remarks on Deconstruction and Pragmatism.Jacques Derrida - 1996 - In Simon Critchley & Chantal Mouffe (eds.), Deconstruction and Pragmatism. Routledge. pp. 84.

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