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Implicatures in judicial opinions

Shardimgaliev, M. (2019) Implicatures in judicial opinions. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law, 32 (2). pp. 391-415. ISSN 1572-8722

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s11196-018-09601-4


A frequently discussed question in recent jurisprudential debates concerns the extent to which conversational implicatures can be conveyed reliably in legal language. Roughly, an implicature is a piece of information that a speaker communicates indirectly, that is without making the conveyed information explicit. According to the classical analysis of implicatures, their successful communication depends on a shared expectation of interlocutors to be cooperative in conversation. However, recently some legal theorists have claimed that in legal language implicatures tend to be unreliable because – according to them – communicative cooperation cannot be presumed in legal discourse to the same extent as in ordinary conversations. In this article, I will focus on implicatures in a particular kind of legal discourse, namely judicial opinions, and I will discuss to what extent we should also be sceptical about implicatures in this type of legal discourse. My aim is to suggest that scepticism about the reliability of implicatures in judicial opinions appears implausible once we take evidence into account, i.e. examples of implicatures from judicial opinions. I will argue that the evidence that sceptics provide is not only scarce but inconclusive and present a wealth of implicatures from judicial opinions that are not unreliable. I will conclude that an evidence-based approach casts the sceptical view into doubt and suggest that communicative cooperation is presumed in judicial opinions, as well.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Philosophy
ID Code:81633
Uncontrolled Keywords:implicature, cooperative principle, legal pragmatics, judicial opinion, judicial decision, case law


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