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Melody and Law's Mindfulness of Time

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A structured awareness of time lies at the core of the law's distinctive normativity. Melody is offered as a rough model of this mindfulness of time, since some important features of this awareness are also present in a hearer's grasp of melody. The model of melody is used, first, to identify some temporal dimensions of intentional action and then to highlight law's mindfulness of time. Its role in the structure of legal thinking, and especially in precedent-sensitive legal reasoning, is explored. This article argues further that melody-modeled mindfulness of time is evident also at a deeper and more pervasive level, giving structure to the distinctive mode of law's normative guidance. The article draws one important theoretical consequence from this exploration, namely, that the normative coherence of momentary legal systems depends conceptually on their coherence over time.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2004


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