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Decoding International LawSemiotics and the Humanities$
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Susan Tiefenbrun

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195385779

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195385779.001.0001

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Legal semiotics

Legal semiotics

Decoding International Law

Susan Tiefenbrun

Oxford University Press

Semiotics is the science of signs. As mysterious as the word may seem, semiotics has become a household term among interpreters of art, music, literature, and now, the law. This chapter explores the basic elements of semiotics, the role that sign theory has played in the law, and the potential use of the semiotic method yet untapped by the legal community. Part I broadly defines semiotics, proposes a definition of legal semiotics, and discusses some of its frequent uses in everyday legal practice. Part II traces the history and development of semiotics as it grew out of the varied disciplines of medicine, philosophy, linguistics, anthropology, and literature. A goal of the chapter is to determine the extent to which these disciplines have made specific contributions to the field of semiotics and the manner in which they have been applied to the law.

Keywords:   law, semiotics, sign theory

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