© 2011

Interpretation of Law in the Age of Enlightenment

From the Rule of the King to the Rule of Law

  • Yasutomo Morigiwa
  • Michael Stolleis
  • Jean-Louis Halperin


  • Unique interdisciplinary work in an unexplored field

  • A collaboration of leading historians of European law

  • Provides a missing link to those working in related disciplines.

  • Historical reflection on how a governing ideology actually plays out in public institutions

  • Provides important relevance to various disciplines related to textual interpretation


Part of the Law and Philosophy Library book series (LAPS, volume 95)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xix
  2. Introduction

  3. The Case of France

  4. The Case of Germany

  5. The Nature of Legal Interpretation

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 123-123
    2. Morigiwa Yasutomo
      Pages 125-138
    3. W. Bradley Wendel
      Pages 153-178
  6. Concluding Remarks

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 179-179
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 189-193

About this book


This book examines the actual practice of the interpretation of law in the Age of Enlightenment versus the ideology of the Age and explains the reason for and difference between the two. The ideology of the Age of Enlightenment was that law, i.e., the will of the sovereign, can be explicitly and appropriately stated, thus making interpretation redundant. However, the reality was that in the 18th century, there was no one leading source of national law that would be the object of interpretation. Instead, there was a plurality of sources of law: the Roman Law, local customary law, and the royal ordinance. Yet, in deciding a case in a court of law, the law must speak with one voice, making interpretation to unify the norms inevitable. This book discusses the process involved and the role played by justification in terms of reason - the hallmark of Enlightenment.


Age of Enlightenment Ancien Régime Case Law Book Constitutionalism Customary Law Enlightenment Gazette des Tribunaux Hermeneutic Hobbes Interpretation in Law Interpretation in the 18th Century Judicial Interpretation Judicial Power Legal Interpretation Legal Texts Leibniz Natural Law Pandectists Private Laws Public Laws Reason in Decisions Roman Law Royal Ordinance

Editors and affiliations

  • Yasutomo Morigiwa
    • 1
  • Michael Stolleis
    • 2
  • Jean-Louis Halperin
    • 3
  1. 1., Graduate School of LawNagoya UniversityNagoyaJapan
  2. 2.Max-Planck-Institut fuer europaeische ReFrankfurt/MainGermany
  3. 3., EHESSEcole Normale SuperieureParisFrance

Bibliographic information

Industry Sectors