An Analytical Foundation of Rule Scepticism



The essay distinguishes a few different senses of ‘interpretation’ and a few different kinds of ‘indeterminacy’ that are relevant for the law. In light of such distinctions, the author defends a ‘moderate’ approach to interpretive scepticism. Under this approach, interpretation has (conceptual, not factual) limits, in the sense that not every sentence claiming to be interpretive can be reasonably subsumed under the concept of interpretation. Interpreting consists not in ascribing just any meaning but in ascribing one meaning in the range of meanings admitted by (a) linguistic usage, (b) accepted interpretive methods and (c) juristic (‘dogmatic’) constructions. A limited concept of interpretation is essential in view of distinguishing between ordinary ascription of meaning to legal texts—i.e. adjudicative interpretation properly understood—and genuine ‘interstitial legislation’ by jurists and judges.


Interpretation Indeterminacy Rule scepticism 


  1. Aarnio A (1977) On legal reasoning. Turun Yliopisto, TurkuGoogle Scholar
  2. Aarnio A (1983) Philosophical perspectives in jurisprudence. Acta Philosophica Fennica, vol 36. HelsinkiGoogle Scholar
  3. Aarnio A (1987) The rational as reasonable. Reidel, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  4. Alchourrón CE (1996) On law and logic. Ratio Juris 9:331–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Alchourrón CE, Bulygin E (1971) Normative systems. Springer, WienCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Alexy R (1978) A theory of legal argumentation (1978) (trans: Adler R, MacCormick N). Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1989Google Scholar
  7. Bulygin E (1986) Legal dogmatics and the systematization of law. In: Eckhoff T, Friedman LM, Uusitalo J (eds) Vernunft und Erfahrung im Rechtsdenken der Gegenwart. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin. (Rechtstheorie, Beiheft 10)Google Scholar
  8. Chiassoni P (2007) Tecnica dell’interpretazione giuridica. Il Mulino, BolognaGoogle Scholar
  9. Chiassoni P (2008) On the wrong track: Andrei Marmor on legal positivism, interpretation, and easy cases. In: Comanducci P, Guastini R (eds) Analisi e diritto 2007. Ricerche di giurisprudenza analitica. Giappichelli, TorinoGoogle Scholar
  10. Coleman JL, Leiter B (1995) Determinacy, objectivity, and authority. In: Marmor A (ed) Law and interpretation. Essays in legal philosophy. Clarendon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  11. Diciotti E (1999) Interpretazione della legge e discorso razionale. Giappichelli, TorinoGoogle Scholar
  12. Eco U (2003) Dire quasi la stessa cosa. Esperienze di traduzione. Bompiani, MilanoGoogle Scholar
  13. Endicott TAO (2000) Vagueness in law. Oxford University Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gray JC (1948) The nature and sources of the law, 2nd edn. Macmillan, New York, from the author’s notes, by GrayGoogle Scholar
  15. Grice HP (1989) Studies in the way of words. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  16. Guastini R (1992) Dalle fonti alle norme, 2nd edn. Giappichelli, TorinoGoogle Scholar
  17. Guastini R (1996) Fragments of a theory of legal sources. Ratio Juris IX:364–386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Guastini R (1997a) Rules, validity, and statutory construction. In: Jori M, Pintore A (eds) Law and language. The Italian analytical school. Deborah Charles Publication, LiverpoolGoogle Scholar
  19. Guastini R (1997b) Interpretive statements. In: Garzón Valdés E, Krawietz W, von Wright GH, Zimmerling R (eds) Normative systems in legal and moral theory. Festschrift for Carlos E. Alchourrón and Eugenio Bulygin. Duncker & Humblot, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  20. Guastini R (2000) La primauté du droit communautaire: une révision tacite de la Constitution italienne. Les Cahiers du Conseil Constitutionnel 9:119–125Google Scholar
  21. Guastini R (2007) Esercizi d’interpretazione dell’art. 2 cost. Ragion pratica (2):235–338Google Scholar
  22. Guastini R (2011) Interpretare e argomentare. Giuffré, MilanoGoogle Scholar
  23. Guastini R (2012) Defeasibility, axiological gaps, and interpretation. In: Ferrer Beltrán J, Ratti GB (eds) The logic of legal requirements. Essays on defeasibility. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  24. Kelsen H (1934) Introduction to the problems of legal theory (trans: Litschevski Paulson B, Paulson SL). Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1992Google Scholar
  25. Kelsen H (1950) The law of the United Nations. Stevens & Sons, LondonGoogle Scholar
  26. Kelsen H (1960) The pure theory of law (trans: Knight M). University of California Press, Berkeley-Los Angeles-London, 1967Google Scholar
  27. Kripke SA (1982) Wittgenstein on rules and private language. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  28. Leiter B (2007) Legal realism and legal positivism reconsidered. In: Leiter B (ed) Naturalizing jurisprudence. Essays on American legal realism and naturalism in legal philosophy. Oxford University Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Llewellyn KN (1950) Remarks on the theory of appellate decisions and the rules or canons about how statutes are to be construed. In: viz., the fragment reprinted in Fisher III WW, Horwitz MJ, Reed TA (eds) American legal realism. Oxford University Press, New York, 1993Google Scholar
  30. Luzzati C (1990) La vaghezza delle norme. Un’analisi del linguaggio giuridico. Giuffré, MilanoGoogle Scholar
  31. Marcenò V, Zagrebelsky G (2018) Giustizia costituzionale, I. Storia, principi, interpretazioni. Il Mulino, BolognaGoogle Scholar
  32. Marmor A (2001) Positive law and objective values. Clarendon, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Marmor A (2005) Interpretation and legal theory, 2nd edn. Hart Publishing, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  34. Mazzarese T (1991) ‘Norm Proposition’: epistemic and semantic queries. Rechtstheorie XXII:39Google Scholar
  35. Peczenik A (2005) Scientia juris. Legal doctrine as knowledge of law and as a source of law. In: Pattaro E (ed) A treatise of legal philosophy and general jurisprudence, vol 4. Springer, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  36. Prieto Sanchís L (1997) Constitucionalismo y positivismo. Fontamara, MéxicoGoogle Scholar
  37. Ross A (1958) On law and justice. Stevens & Sons, LondonGoogle Scholar
  38. Scarpelli U (1982) Il metodo giuridico. In: Scarpelli U (ed) L’etica senza verità. Il Mulino, BolognaGoogle Scholar
  39. Schauer F (1991) Playing by the rules. A philosophical examination of rule-based decision-making in law and in life. Clarendon, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  40. Tarello G (1974) La semantica del neustico. Osservazioni sulla ‘parte descrittiva’ degli enunciati precettivi. In: Tarello G (ed) Diritto, enunciati, usi. Studi di teoria e metateoria del diritto. Il Mulino, BolognaGoogle Scholar
  41. Tarello G (1980) L’interpretazione della legge. Giuffré, MilanoGoogle Scholar
  42. Troper M (1994) La signature des ordonnances: fonctions d’une controverse. In: Troper M (ed) Pour une théorie juridique de l’Ètat. Presses universitaires de France, ParisCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Troper M (2001a) La liberté d’interprétation du juge constitutionnel. In: Troper M (ed) La théorie du droit, le droit, l’État. Presses universitaires de France, ParisGoogle Scholar
  44. Troper M (2001b) Une théorie réaliste de l’interprétation. In: Troper M (ed) La théorie du droit, le droit, l’État. Presses universitaires de France, ParisGoogle Scholar
  45. Troper M (2001c) Les contraintes de l’argumentation juridique dans la production des normes. In: Pfersmann O, Timsit G (eds) Raisonnement juridique et interprétation. Publications de la Sorbonne, ParisGoogle Scholar
  46. Troper M (2005) L’interprétation constitutionnelle. In: Mélin-Soucramanien F (ed) L’interprétation constitutionnelle. Dalloz, ParisGoogle Scholar
  47. Twining W, Miers D (1982) How to do things with rules. A primer of interpretation, 2nd edn. Weidenfeld and Nicholson, LondonGoogle Scholar
  48. Viola F, Zaccaria G (1999) Diritto e interpretazione. Lineamenti di teoria ermeneutica del diritto. Laterza, RomaGoogle Scholar
  49. Zaccaria G (1995) L’arte dell’interpretazione. Saggi sull’ermeneutica giuridica contemporânea. Cedam, PadovaGoogle Scholar
  50. Zaccaria G (1996) Questioni di interpretazione. Cedam, PadovaGoogle Scholar
  51. Zagrebelsky G (1992) Il diritto mite. Legge, diritti, giustizia. Einaudi, TorinoGoogle Scholar
  52. Zagrebelsky G (2008) La legge e la sua giustizia. Il Mulino, BolognaGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Genova, Tarello Institute for Legal PhilosophyGenovaItaly

Personalised recommendations