The rational law-maker and the pragmatics of legal interpretation

Marcelo Dascal, Jerzy Wróblewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In so far as legal discourse in general, and legal interpretation in particular, is a communicative process, it is subject to rationality assumptions. In so far as it is a more regimented communicative process than ordinary communication, it should be expected that such assumptions play a more important and reliable role in the interpretation of legal discourse than in the interpretation of other forms of discourse. In an earlier installment of our interdisciplinary project of bringing together pragmatics and the theory of legal interpretation, we referred to the need to rely on rationality assumptions. We alluded briefly to the theoretical construct of a 'rational law-maker' as expressing this need. Given the importance of this notion, it deserves a more careful scrutiny - which we purport to provide in the present paper. We delineate a profile of the 'rational law-maker' (and of its counterpart, the 'rational law-interpreter'), and analyze their role in legal reasoning, in the determination of the meaning of legal texts, and in the ideologies of legal interpretation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-444
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1991


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