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2007 | 11(24) | 7-13

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In the paper the following issue is discussed: what is rational behaviour of a lawyer in the process of the interpretation of legal texts? This issue is investigated within the theory of legal interpretation where two key models of interpretation are considered. The first model is based on the idea that rules prescribed by the lawmaker, and somehow 'concealed' by him in legal texts, should be derived from legal texts merely by semiotic procedures or at least - by procedures that prefer semiotic measures. The second model is based on the idea that rules derived from legal texts should be just. So, if a legal text implies something unjust, then we are supposed to abandon the direct meaning of the text and interpret the text in such a way that the rules derived from the text are just. So lawyers have two opposing models of interpretation regarding legal texts. Therefore, they are able to defend anything. If we want them to defend something that is in accordance with 'the letter of the law', they will use the first model of interpretation. However, if we want them to defend something that is in conflict with 'the letter of the law' they can then use the second model. In both cases they can be seen as somehow being rational. But are they equally rational by using opposing models? It is Hume's statement that moral distinctions cannot be derived from reason (the is-ought problem). The true meaning of the thesis is that the so called 'positive sciences' cannot help us with moral dilemmas: it is impossible to infer values from facts or to infer facts from values. But if so, then how can we put forward binding arguments for any model of legal interpretation? Several arguments based on intuition can be put forward to support the thesis that axiological statements and non-axiological statements are logically separated. In the paper three of them are discussed: (i) an argument based on the idea of intractability of social phenomena, (ii) an argument based on the idea of expected time horizon of events, (iii) an argument based on the Ant and the Grasshopper Paradox. As a conclusion we have to admit that it is impossible to establish a universal model of legal interpretation.





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  • Andrzej Malec, Uniwersytet w Bialymstoku, Wydzial Matematyki i Informatyki, Katedra Logiki, Informatyki i Filozofii Nauki, ul. Sosnowa 64, 15-887 Bialystok, Poland


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