Law and Conversational Implicatures


DOI: 10.1007/s11196-010-9201-x

Cite this article as:
Poggi, F. Int J Semiot Law (2011) 24: 21. doi:10.1007/s11196-010-9201-x


This essay investigates the applicability of Grice’s theory of conversational implicatures to legal interpretation, in order to highlight some of its characteristics. After introducing the notions of language and discourse, and briefly explaining the most salient aspects of Grice’s theory, I will analyse the interpretation of two types of legal acts; authoritative legal acts and acts of private autonomy. Regarding the first class, exemplified by statutes, I will argue against the applicability of Gricean theory due to the conflictual behaviour of the addressees and, above all, to the insurmountable indeterminacy of the contextual elements. As far as acts of private autonomy are concerned, exemplified by contracts, I will argue that the cooperative principle is applicable, at least in those legal systems that include the principle of bona fides among the interpretative regulations of such acts.


Bona fides Context Discourse Grice Legal interpretation 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.dipartimento Cesare BeccariaResearcher in Legal Philosophy, Università degli Studi di MilanoMilanItaly

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