Sociology Index

Interpretivist, Interpretivism

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 one of the main influences 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. As such, interpretivism is a thesis about the nature of law.

Interpretive Theory of Law
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.