Order in Multiplicity: Aristotle on Text, Context and the Rule of Law

Maureen B. Cavanaugh
2000 Social Science Research Network  
Justice Scalia has made the question of textual interpretation tantamount to a referendum on whether we are a government characterized by the "rule of law" or the "rule of men." Aristotle is frequently quoted in support of statements about the rule of law and methods of statutory interpretation. While frequent, quotation of and reliance on Aristotle has been selective. The dichotomy between methods of interpretation and the rule of law turns out to be a false one. This Article examines
more » ... 's theories of interpretation, especially his analysis of homonymy, non-univocal uses of the same word, to show that not all homonyms are random. Aristotle's contribution, that associated homonyms allow us to understand related ideas, along with his principles of language and logic, permit us to address the central question of how to interpret a text. Following an explication of Aristotelian methodology, this Article then considers Gregory v. Helvering, an early tax case articulating a non-literal statutory interpretation of * The title of this Article references CHRISTOPHER SHIELDS, ORDER IN MULTIPLICITY:
doi:10.2139/ssrn.246817 fatcat:45kmrurtsvdylitcm2m2i2kbue