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  • Print publication year: 2021
  • Online publication date: December 2020

5 - Arguments of Statutory Interpretation and Argumentation Schemes


As shown in the previous chapters, interpretation is at the crossroad between linguistics – and in particular pragmatics – and legal theory. When we analyzed the relationship between the Gricean and neo-Gricean pragmatic frameworks and the instruments used in legal interpretation, we pointed out the role of presumptions and defeasibility in assessing the strength of an interpretation. In this perspective, pragmatic maxims and interpretative canons are both useful tools for justifying an interpretation, but alone do not provide any criteria for establishing the superiority of an argument – and consequently of a justified interpretation – over another. In our previous chapter, we pointed out how a hierarchy of presumptions based on their defeasibility conditions can guide the process of assessment. In this view, the less defeasible arguments are those that are based on specific presumptions, namely defeasible generalizations linking an interpretation to specific features of a text or co-text.