Nicos Stavropoulos

in Objectivity in Law

Published in print April 1996 | ISBN: 9780198258995
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191681899 | DOI:

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This is an essay in support of the idea that legal interpretation can be objective. It identifies one important source of resistance to the idea: a defective semantics that is very widely accepted. The book seeks to establish the inadequacy of that traditional semantics and the superiority of an alternative framework. It argues that, once that alternative framework is accepted, most doubts about the possibility of objectivity in legal interpretation fade. Moreover, the book claims that the alternative framework yields new insights into important jurisprudential puzzles. It is widely assumed that, to the extent that the content of the law turns on semantic analysis, something like the Criterial Model must hold. This is called the Semantic Assumption, which works in favour of a form of strict legal positivism. This chapter explores the revisionist semantics in legal theory, describes and defends the Kripke-Putnam framework, and discusses H. L. A. Hart's semantics, mind-dependence and cognitivism, substantive disagreement and indeterminacy in law, and Ronald Dworkin's pre-interpretive agreement.

Keywords: H. L. A. Hart; Ronald Dworkin; legal interpretation; objectivity; semantics; legal theory; Criterial Model; Semantic Assumption; legal positivism; Kripke-Putnam framework

Chapter.  7230 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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