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Relativism in Legal Thinking: Stanley Fish and the Concept of an Interpretive Community
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Law, Department of Law.
2008 (English)In: Ratio Juris, ISSN 0952-1917, E-ISSN 1467-9337, Vol. 21, no 1, 157-171 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Relativistic theories and arguments are fairly common in legal thinking. A case in point is Stanley Fish’s theory of interpretation, which applies to statutes and constitutions as well as to novels and poems. Fish holds, inter alia, (i) that an interpretation of a statute, a poem, or some other text can be true or valid only in light of the interpretive strategies that define an interpretive community, and (ii) that no set of interpretive strategies (and therefore no interpretation) is truer or more valid than any other. In this article, I discuss these claims critically and argue that the very idea of an interpretive community is more or less unintelligible, and that in any case Fish’s theory is self-refuting.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008. Vol. 21, no 1, 157-171 p.
Keyword [en]
Stanley Fish, interpretation, interpretive community, relativism, Davidson
National Category
Law and Society
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-15572DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9337.2007.00384.xOAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-15572DiVA: diva2:43343
Available from: 2008-02-21 Created: 2008-02-21 Last updated: 2014-03-17Bibliographically approved

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