Intergenerational interpretative dissonance and the challenge to reason
Faculty of Law
University of Wollongong
This paper draws upon the results of a pilot study which empirically investigated if social, political, historical and linguistic knowledge affected the interpretative practices of different generations of lawyers. The study showed that these non-legal factors are actively drawn upon when interpreting legal texts (such as cases), but that when interpreted outside the generation in which (or by whom) they were written, these texts were (largely) misread and misinterpreted. The study revealed an additional and unexpected finding: that the act of reasoned interpretation was generationally grounded as well. Such findings potentially disclose a mismatch between the rhetoric and reality of legal behaviours.