Interpretation and Indeterminacy

Forthcoming, Jerusalem Review of Legal Studies

Oxford Legal Studies Research Paper No. 96/2013

10 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2013

Date Written: November 9, 2013


Legal interpretation is a reasoning process. It is needed whenever reasoning is needed in order to decide what a legal instrument means. I defend this approach through a critical discussion of the view that Andrei Marmor defends, in Philosophy of Law (2011), that legal interpretation is needed when the law is indeterminate. I also offer reasons for disagreeing with Marmor’s argument that H.P.Grice’s ‘cooperative principle’ does not generally apply in legal discourse. The content of the law made by legislation includes what the legislation asserts, and also those implicatures that courts have conclusive reason to act upon, in light of the cooperative principle.

Keywords: interpretation, indeterminacy, implicatures, pragmatics, Grice

Suggested Citation

Endicott, Timothy A.O., Interpretation and Indeterminacy (November 9, 2013). Forthcoming, Jerusalem Review of Legal Studies; Oxford Legal Studies Research Paper No. 96/2013. Available at SSRN: or

Timothy A.O. Endicott (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law ( email )

St. Cross Building
St. Cross Road
Oxford, OX1 3UJ
United Kingdom

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