International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue internationale de Sémiotique juridique

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 163-178

First online:

Retracing One’s Steps: Searching for the Ethics of Legal Interpretation

  • Susanna Lindroos-HovinheimoAffiliated withFaculty of Law, University of Helsinki Email author 

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The article discusses the problem of interpretation in law. Are there some criteria by which we can distinguish a good interpretation from a bad one, interpretation from over-interpretation? It is argued in this article that there is always a choice in defining the meaning of a text and this choice can be seen as an ethical one. This article thus studies the question of limits of interpretation by focusing on the ethical elements of interpretation. It is argued here that legal interpretation contains a requirement of justice that shapes the responsibility that the interpreter carries for his choices of meaning. Therefore the ethical elements of interpretation are especially pressing in the interpretation of legal texts.