In the short history of integrational linguistics, there have been a number of discussions of aspects of legal reasoning and jurisprudential practice. One is that of Roy Harris, in The Language Myth, concerning the situated grounds on which judges may have to decide upon meanings or descriptions in particular cases: whether a drunkard wheeling a bicycle is 'in charge of a carriage', whether to sell a Bugs Bunny T-shirt in particular circumstances amounts to selling a souvenir, and whether for the purposes of an insurance claim, the accidental scorching of trousers by an electric iron is justifiably described as a fire. In all these cases, Harris's comn1ents chime with the view of Hart, in The Concept of LaB, who famously observed that legal rules are necessarily, at best, open in texture. To quote a part of just one sentence from Hart, on legal rules and their non-automatic application:
It is ... important to appreciate why, apart from [law's] dependence on language as it actually is, with its characteristics of open texture, we should not cherish, even as an ideal, the conception of a rule so detailed that the question whether it applied or not to a particular case was always settled in advance, and never involved, at the point of actual application, a fresh choice between alternatives. (Hart, 1961: 127-8)
More recently Christopher Hutton, reviewing corJributions to a conference on Law and Linguistics at Washington University, has found not proven the claim made by some linguists, that linguistics, in its scientificity, has important things to say to lawyers. Why so? Essentially, because the legal profession is of the wcrld, and applies
its expertise on a case by case basis~ so that there is far more common ground between the literary critic who~ as it were~ enters a plea or makes a judgement on a particular unique poem, than with the orthodox linguist~ who purports hypothetico-deductively to elaborate a maximally generalized and abstract system underlying performance in one or all natural languages. Literary critics~ legal judges~ and linguists are all "judges~ of a kind~ in what they do. But it is the orthodox linguist, among these three professions~ who would most resist being th us characterized.