© 2019

Implicatures within Legal Language


  • Presents a groundbreaking approach to legal pragmatics

  • Unveils the mechanisms behind courts’ decisions

  • Demonstrates an unique and novel approach to the meaning of legal implicatures


Part of the Law and Philosophy Library book series (LAPS, volume 127)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Izabela Skoczeń
    Pages 1-14
  3. Izabela Skoczeń
    Pages 89-119
  4. Izabela Skoczeń
    Pages 121-160
  5. Izabela Skoczeń
    Pages 171-172

About this book


This book proposes a novel, descriptive theory that unveils the linguistic mechanisms lurking behind judicial decisions. It offers a comprehensive account of the ongoing debate, as well as a novel solution to the problem of understanding legal pragmatics.

Linguistic pragmatics is based on a theory created by Paul Grice, who observed that people usually convey more than just the amalgam of the meaning of the words they use. He labeled this surplus of meaning a “conversational implicature.” This book addresses the question of whether implicatures occur in the legal language, firstly illustrating why the classic Gricean theory is not applicable (without substantial modification) to the description of legal language and proposing a novel approach based on a modification of Andrei Marmor’s “strategic speech.” Subsequently, it analyzes neo-Gricean theories and their limited use for describing the mechanisms of legal interpretation, and discusses the possibility of pragmatic enrichment of legal content as well as the notion of completeness of a legal proposition. Lastly, it illustrates how the developed theory works in practice, with examples from penal and civil law cases. The book is helpful to legal practitioners, since it provides insights into the reasons for and linguistic mechanisms behind courts’ decisions, but also to philosophers of law, philosophers of language, linguists and non-experts wishing to better understand the mechanisms of legal decision making.


Pragmatics of legal language Paul Grice Implicature Semantic externalism Pragmatic enrichment Canons of construction Legal interpretation Statutory language Collective intentionality Strategic speech

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Legal Theory and Jagiellonian Centre for Law, Language and PhilosophyJagiellonian UniversityKrakówPoland

About the authors

Izabela Skoczeń is a researcher at the Department of Legal Theory, Jagiellonian University in Cracow. She works on the application of theories from the philosophy of language to elucidate issues in jurisprudence.

Bibliographic information

Industry Sectors