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

4 - Pragmatic Maxims and Presumptions in Legal Interpretation


In our previous chapter on ambiguity, we underscored how the logical form of a legal statement does not provide the proposition expressed. The meaning of an utterance – the product of a verbal act performed in a specific context (Leech 1983, 14) – cannot be the simple output of a decoding process (Sperber and Wilson 1995, 182; Recanati 2003, 56), or “semantic interpretation” (Leech 1983, 5). The logical form (also called “semantic representation”) that can be recovered through the mere decoding of an utterance through the application of the rules of grammar (Sperber and Wilson 1995, 9–10) does not deliver complete propositions, but only “semantic schemata” (Recanati 2003, 56).

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