Harold Anthony Lloyd (Wake Forest University School of Law) has posted Rejecting Trumpery: Pragmatism’s Mastery of Meaning, Truth, and Workable Rule of Law (Wake Forest Journal of Law & Policy, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
In these times of Trump, the hermeneutic pragmatism set forth in this article examines how “post-truth” claims over-estimate semantic freedoms while under-estimating semantic and pre-semantic restraints. Such pragmatism also examines how formalists err by committing the reverse error. Drawing on insights from James, Peirce, Putnam, Rorty, Gadamer, Derrida, and others, such hermeneutic pragmatism explores (1) the necessary role of both internal and objective experience in meaning, (2) the resulting instrumental nature of concepts required to deal with such experience; (3) the related need for workability of concepts as applied to “the collectivity of experience’s demands, nothing being omitted,” (4) degrees of semantic freedoms involved in constructing, framing, and retaining such workable concepts, and (5) degrees of semantic, pre-semantic, and other restraints on constructing, framing, and retaining such workable concepts.
Such hermeneutic pragmatism (in addition to countering formalist trumpery*) therefore counters troubling "post-truth" trumpery in certain segments of government and society. For example, The Washington Post tells us that President Trump is “known for trafficking in mistruths and even outright lies;” that “The president often seeks to paint a self-serving and self-affirming alternate reality for himself and his supporters;” that, through May 31, 2018, “Trump had made 3,251 false or misleading claims in 497 days--an average of 6.5 such claims per day of his presidency;” and that Donald Trump, Jr. has posted poorly-doctored images making “his father’s Gallup presidential approval rating look [ten points] higher than it actually is” while claiming “I guess there is a magic wand to make things happen and @realdonaldtrump seems to have it.” Additionally, the President’s attorney Rudy Giuliani has expressly claimed that “Truth isn’t truth.” Competent and ethical lawyers must of course reject such mendacity and nonsense.
Such hermeneutic pragmatism also introduces Eunomia, a real-world alternative to Dworkin’s superhuman judge Hercules. Named after the Greek goddess of good order, the human Eunomia represents the reasonable judge excellently versed in (among other things) legal theory, legal practice, linguistics, and philosophy of language. Additionally, in its appendices, this article surveys the pragmatic restraints of “implementives” and provides a detailed overview of pragmatic “workability” restraints for both law and fact.
*By “trumpery” this article means “Deception; trickery, fraud;” “Nonsense; rubbish;” and “Showy but worthless finery.” Trumpery, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed. 2016).