SSRN: Founding-Era Translations of the Constitution
AbstractFrom Jack Balkin
Before its ratification, the United States Constitution was translated into
German and Dutch for the German- and Dutch-speaking populations of Pennsylvania and New York. Although copies of both the German- and Dutch- language translations have been preserved, they have largely escaped analysis — and public awareness — until now. For the first time, this Article examines the text of the founding-era translations of the federal constitution and explains how the translations can clarify the meaning of the original text.
Christina Mulligan, Michael Douma, Hans Lind and Brian Quinn have recently shown that during the ratification of the Constitution in 1787-1788, German and Dutch translations of the Constitution were distributed to non-English speakers in the crucial states of Pennsylvania and New York. These translations differ from the English text in interesting and important ways. As a result, English speakers may have understood the proposed Constitution in one way, while non-English speakers may have understood it quite differently.
This essay uses this example to show why original public meaning is not a set of facts that lawyers simply discover and report. Rather, it is a theoretical construction that lawyers fashion in order to do the work of constitutional interpretation. There is no single way to construct original public meaning from the materials of the past. What we do construct depends in part on what we think constitutions are for and how they are supposed to work. It also depends on the practical needs of lawyers in search of a distinctively legal meaning that they can employ in legal argument.Kieran Healy's new paper: Fuck Nuance
As alleged virtues go, nuance is superficially attractive. Isn’t the mark of a good thinker the ability to see subtle differences in kind or gracefully shade the meaning terms? Shouldn’t we cultivate the ability to insinuate overtones of meaning in our concepts?I wonder if his wife has read it?
As conservative societies modernize the women are the first to adapt.
Healy's the only writer at CT who's on good terms with Leiter. He still runs the numbers for his rankings, etc.
Rakesh Bhandari as usual when he shows up makes a good comment.
The post following Healy's. Quiggin: The great replication crisis.
Healy comes off better in an interview at CHE
It doesn’t make much sense to argue against the idea of nuance per se. What counts as nuance depends on whom you’re speaking to, and why. Instead I have a specific phenomenon in mind: the tendency to demand more detail, insist on a more-sophisticated approach, or assert things are more complex than has been said — without having anything much to say beyond that. In particular, it’s the tendency to think doing so makes you a deep thinker.but he still misses the point:
It is not the job of theory to verbally reproduce the complexity of the world.Any theory that isn't seen as modeling the complexity of the world, even the social world that made it, will be forgotten. Theory is not science. Any theory will become historicized or vanish.
The biggest problem is that academics in the social sciences want to be theorists, seen as original thinkers. They all want to be soloists and not orchestra players. They indulge in artiness and call it art, and they want to think of themselves as scientists in the most technical sense. See the annoyed responses of statisticians and others in Quiggin's post who are happy to think of themselves as technicians or cogs in the scientific machine.