In 1950 the great realist jurisprude Karl N. Llewellyn wrote that accepted rules of statutory interpretation - "canons of construction" - led "in happily variant directions." In support he offered a list of twenty-eight pairs of canons, each pair a "thrust" and a "parry" having opposite effect. Llewellyn's thesis was widely considered devastating to the legitimacy of canons, and for almost half a century academic research on them virtually ceased. In this book Professor Sinclair carefully examines the twenty-eight pairs of "dueling canons," the sources from which they were derived, their historical use in case law and treatises, their intuitive and theoretical justifications, and, critically, their contrariety. Sinclair shows that Llewellyn's justificatory list contains no real contradictions, nor even inconsistencies of significance, and that his thesis, however monumental, fails. After such general and continuing acceptance of Llewellyn's argument, these are very strong conclusions requiring their own justification; this in turn requires exploration of the function of statutes in society, the foundational conditions of governing communication, and the role of policy, intuition, and linguistic theory in statutory interpretation.
Michael Sinclair, Professor Emeritus of New York Law School, is a native of New Zealand where he received his early education, a B.A. (Economics), B.A. Hon's. (First class in philosophy), and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, writing a dissertation on Ludwig Wittgenstein, "Language Games and Forms of Life." In 1974, with the aid of a Fulbright Fellowship, he followed a girl to the United States, where he studied logic and grammar for two years before going to law school. They are still married and have one daughter, a musician. He received a J.D. (magna cum laude, Order of the Coif) from the University of Michigan Law School in 1978 and after three years in practice began teaching in 1981. He taught a variety of subjects -contracts, torts, commercial law, intellectual property, banking, jurisprudence, wills and trusts, administrative law, and statutory interpretation -and is the author of some thirty articles and the book TRADITIONAL TOOLS OF STATUTORY INTERPRETATION (Vandeplas Publishing, 2013). He and his wife Karen, an anthropologist, live in retirement in Northport, the northernmost town on Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan's "little finger."