Excerpts From the Development of Methods of Legal Interpretation

  • Zoltán J. Tóth Professor, Department of Legal History, Jurisprudence, and Church Law, Faculty of Law, Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church, Budapest, Hungary
Keywords: Statutory interpretation, legal argumentation, legal methodology, history of ideas, Savigny, Bielefelder Kreis


Legal interpretation is a stage in the application of the law, an indispensable operation whereby a judge (or other decision-maker) determines what a legal text means. The text does not stand alone; the words and expressions used in the norm may themselves have multiple meanings even in the context of everyday terminology, not to mention the differences between legal and other professional meanings. Furthermore, a norm has not only a text but also a context, a regulatory environment, a declared legislative purpose, an intention by the lawmaker or a set of moral expectations within which the text can be interpreted, etc. This paper attempts to present how methods of legal interpretation have evolved over the last two centuries and how we have moved from Savigny’s Canon to the sophisticated methodologies of today. At the end of the paper, we ourselves will attempt to provide a useful methodological classification of these highly fragmented and diffuse methods.


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How to Cite
TóthZ. J. (2022). Excerpts From the Development of Methods of Legal Interpretation. Law, Identity and Values, 2(1), 241-264. https://doi.org/10.55073/2022.1.241-264