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Title: On whales and fish. Two models of interpretation
Author: Martí, Genoveva
Ramírez Ludeña, Lorena
Keywords: Semàntica (Filosofia)
Argumentació jurídica
Semantics (Philosophy)
Forensic orations
Issue Date: 27-Aug-2020
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
Abstract: We discuss the 1818 case in which the jury sided with inspector J. Maurice, who had demanded payment for inspecting casks of whale oil. The verdict is arguably incorrect: as several experts argued, whales are not fish. However, a well-established use of 'fish' at the time included whales. The jury relied on that meaning. Arguably, the verdict was also correct. Both responses are intrinsically plausible, albeit contradictory. It is often argued that the issue in this case is not about semantics, but about how content is determined by features of legal communication. Some authors try to elucidate how the content of legal texts is determined by pragmatic features. Others consider that there is always a gap between the content communicated by an act of legislation and its legal impact. Both positions try to assess whether the verdict of the jury was right. Here we will not adjudicate, nor will we try to provide an answer by determining the correct meaning of 'fish'. Our purpose is to understand the tension raised by the case. We claim that semantic and meta- semantic considerations are essential, and we propose two models that clarify the nature of the tension.
Note: Versió postprint del document publicat a:
It is part of: Jurisprudence. An International Journal of Legal and Political Thought, 2020, vol. 11, num. 1, p. 63-75
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ISSN: 2040-3313
Appears in Collections:Articles publicats en revistes (Filosofia)

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