Article/Publication Details

Open Texture of Concepts and Rules – Fuel for the Fire of Subjectivism in Applied Semantics?

(Original title: Otvorená textúra pojmov a pravidiel – voda na mlyn pre subjektivizmus v aplikovanej sémantike?)
Filozofia, 2020, vol. 75, No 4, pp. 309 – 323.
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Abstract

When using natural language in a domain of a special discipline, which is fundamentally based on its use (for example, language of law), we are led on the one hand by the need for precision and unambiguity and on the other hand by the need for brevity and efficiency. A specific semantic problem for texts expressing a system of normative rules for the regulation of actions is the question of their efficient applicability in new situations. Herbert Hart came up with a suggestion on how to solve these dilemmas in the field of law and was loosely inspired by the theory of open texture of concepts. He saw the solution in an inevitable defeasibility of a rule, which, in his view, is caused by the open texture of the goal pursued by the rule. However, extensive use of the instrument of open texture of a concept or a rule can be fuel for the fire of subjectivism in semantic practice. It is necessary to distinguish the phenomenon of open texture of concepts from the polysemy of natural language expressions and the phenomenon of so-called privative modification. Applicative flexibility and effectiveness of normative theory is aided by a more appropriate generality of concepts, which is achieved, for example, by recodification of law, rather than by artifi-cially extending the scope of concepts on the basis of their fuzziness.

Keywords

Fuzziness, Generality, Open texture of a concept / rule, Polysemym, Privative modification, Semantics