The interpretivist tradition in sociology developed largely as a criticism of the dominant theory of positivism. Interpretivist sociologists do not necessarily reject the positivist account of scientific knowledge, but what they do question is the idea that the logic and methods of natural science can be imported into the study of societies. Max Weber was the main influence on the interpretivist tradition in sociology. - Dr Steve Taylor. The term interpretivist is used because the information that is gathered is interpreted. Interpretivism is a thesis about what determines legal rights and duties, that is, what makes it the case that the law requires what it does. Interpretivism is a thesis about the nature of law.
All interpretivist paradigms claim that there is a clear and significant difference between the natural and social sciences, with the technicist group of paradigms favouring natural quantitative research, while interpretivist paradigms favour social qualitative research. According to intepretivists, precise, systematic and theoretical answers to complex human problems do not exist.
Interpretivism focuses on people’s subjective experiences, on how people “construct” the social world by sharing meanings, and how they interact with or relate to each other. In interpretivism, social life is regarded as a distinctively human product. Interpretivism has its roots in hermeneutics, which, as you already know, is the study of the theory and practice of interpretation. Some researchers feel that interpretivism is largely based on assumptions rather than accurate and authentic data, with the result that conclusions and findings based on it will lack scientific consistency.
Interpretivism about the nature of law is the view that legal rights and duties are determined by the scheme of principle that provides the best justification of certain political practices of a community: a scheme identifiable through an interpretation of the practices that is sensitive both to the facts of the practices and to the values or principles that the practices serve. Interpretivism has been developed by Ronald Dworkin in a number of publications over the last 30 years or so. Interpretivism as developed by Dworkin includes the claim that interpretation is sensitive to values in the way just explained, and that it is fundamental to the nature of law.
We shall be concerned exclusively with interpretivism as a theory about the nature of law, and so we shall not consider such views, except as possible misunderstandings of interpretivism. We shall focus on the explanation of the position defended by Dworkin, and briefly consider some alternatives in respect of the normative character of legal interpretation.