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What Does “Civilmoign” Mean?
April 30, 2011
The word “civilmoign” is a nonsense term that appears in Lon L. Fuller’s “The Case of the Speluncean Explorers.”
Now I realize that wherever you have rules and abstract principles lawyers are going to be able to make distinctions. To some extent the sort of thing I have been describing is a necessary evil attaching to any formal regulation of human affairs. But I think that the area which really stands in need of such regulation is greatly overestimated. There are, of course, a few fundamental rules of the game that must be accepted if the game is to go on at all. I would include among these the rules relating to the conduct of elections, the appointment of public officials, and the term during which an office is held. Here some restraint on discretion and dispensation, some adherence to form, some scruple for what does and what does not fall within the rule, is, I concede, essential. Perhaps the area of basic principle should be expanded to include certain other rules, such as those designed to preserve the free civilmoign system.
The word “civilmoign” has no meaning, but it does have purpose. As James Boyle explains:
With Fuller’s characteristic love of nested insights, Handy then shows how problematic a task it is to pick these ‘foundational’ rules. Having gulled the unwary reader by referring to apparently uncontentious procedural rules of election law, Handy adds, “perhaps the area of basic principle should be expanded to include certain other rules such as those designed to preserve the free civilmoign system.” We must have both form and substance, and Handy wants to restrict our ideas of formal justice to those “few fundamental rules of the fame that must be accepted if the game is to go on at all.” But which rules exactly are those? Generations of students have