The Pragmatics of Scepticism

  • Pierluigi ChiassoniEmail author
Part of the Perspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy & Psychology book series (PEPRPHPS, volume 10)


My aim in this paper is arguing for interpretive scepticism from a pragmatics point of view. The argument will develop in four steps. In the first step, I will lay down the conceptual framework I am going to use. In the second step, I will make clear what I consider scepticism and formalism to be. Here, I will contrast scepticism (non-cognitivism) with two varieties of formalism (integral and restricted cognitivism, respectively), and set forth a few criticisms of them. In the third step, I will consider a sophisticated version of restricted cognitivism: the one defended by Andrei Marmor in a series of valuable essays. Marmor makes his case by resorting to philosophy of language. I will argue, however, that philosophy of language, and pragmatics as a substantive part thereof, far from providing support for the restricted form of cognitivism Marmor advocates, suggest contrariwise that it should be abandoned. In the fourth, and last, step, I will lay down the outline of a pragmatic interpretivist theory of judicial interpretation.


Legal interpretation Formalism Scepticism Philosophy of language Pragmatics 


  1. Barberis, M. (2014). Introduzione allo studio del diritto. Torino: Giappichelli.Google Scholar
  2. Bobbio, N. (1971). Le bon législateur. Logique et analyse, 53–54, 243–249.Google Scholar
  3. Carrió, G. R. (1965). Notas sobre derecho y lenguaje. Buenos Aires: Abeledo Perrot.Google Scholar
  4. Chiassoni, P. (1999). Interpretive games: Statutory construction through Gricean eyes. Analisi e diritto, 1999, 79–99.Google Scholar
  5. Chiassoni, P. (2008). On the wrong track: Andrei Marmor on legal positivism, interpretation, and easy cases. Ratio Juris, 21(2), 248–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chiassoni, P. (2009). L’indirizzo analítico nella filosofía del diritto. I. Da Bentham a Kelsen. Torino: Giappichelli.Google Scholar
  7. Chiassoni, P. (2011). Técnicas de interpretación jurídica. Breviario para juristas. Madrid/Barcelona/Buenos Aires: Marcial Pons.Google Scholar
  8. Chiassoni, P. (2014). Legal interpretation without truth, on file with “Revus”, 2016.Google Scholar
  9. Dascal, M., & Wroblewski, J. (1988). Transparency and doubt: Understanding and interpretation in pragmatics and in law. Law and Philosophy, 7, 203–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Diciotti, E. (2003). L’ambigua alternativa tra cognitivismo e scetticismo interpretativo. Siena: Università degli Studi di Siena, Dipartimento di Scienze Storiche, Giuridiche, Politiche e Sociali, Working Paper 45.Google Scholar
  11. Dworkin, R. (1977). The model of rules I. In: Id., Taking rights seriously, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Endicott, T. (1994). Putting interpretation in its place. Law and Philosophy, 13, 451–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Endicott, T. (2014). Law and language. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Spring 2014 Edition). URL=
  14. Guastini, R. (2010). Nuevos estudios sobre la interpretación. Bogotá: Externado de Colombia.Google Scholar
  15. Guastini, R. (2011). Rule-scepticism restated. In L. Green & B. Leiter (Eds.), Oxford studies in philosophy of law (pp. 138–140). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hart, H. L. A. (1956). Discretion. Harvard Law Review, 127(2013), 652–665.Google Scholar
  17. Hart, H. L. A. (1958). Positivism and the separation of law and morals. In Hart 1983 (pp. 49–87).Google Scholar
  18. Hart, H. L. A. (1961). The concept of law. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Third Edition, 2012.Google Scholar
  19. Hart, H. L. A. (1977). American jurisprudence through English eyes: The nightmare and the noble dream. In Hart 1983 (pp. 123–144).Google Scholar
  20. Hart, H. L. A. (1983). Essays in jurisprudence and philosophy. Oxford: Clarendon.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Iglesias Vila, M. (1999). El Problema de la discreción judicial. Una aproximación al conocimiento jurídico. Madrid: Centro de Estudios Políticos y Constitucionales.Google Scholar
  22. Laporta, F. (2007). El imperio de la ley. Una visión actual. Madrid: Trotta.Google Scholar
  23. Lifante Vidal, I. (1989). Dos conceptos de discrecionalidad jurídica. Doxa, 25, 413–439.Google Scholar
  24. Marmor, A. (2005). Interpretation and legal theory (2nd Rev. ed.). Oxford: Hart Publishing.Google Scholar
  25. Marmor, A. (2008). The pragmatics of legal language. Ratio Juris, 21, 423–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Marmor, A. (2011). Philosophy of law. Princeton/Oxford: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Marmor, A. (2014). The language of law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ruiz Manero, J. (1990). Jurisdicción y normas. Dos estudios sobre función jurisdiccional y teoría del derecho. Madrid: Centro de Estudios Constitucionales.Google Scholar
  29. Schauer, F. (1984). Easy cases. Southern California Law Review, 58, 399–440.Google Scholar
  30. Wróblewski, J. (1985). Constitución y teoría general de la interpretación jurídica. Madrid: Civitas.Google Scholar
  31. Wróblewski, J. (1992). In Z. Bankowski & N. MacCormick (Eds.), The judicial application of law. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.TILPH – Tarello Institute for Legal Philosophy, Department of LawUniversità degli Studi di GenovaGenovaItaly

Personalised recommendations