Fusion of Horizons and One Right Answer: H.-G. Gadamer and R. Dworkin about the truth and objectivity in interpretation

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Κατεύθυνση Φιλοσοφία του Δικαίου
Library of the School of Law
Deposit date:
Gkirmpas Asterios
Supervisors info:
Φίλιππος Βασιλόγιαννης, Αναπληρωτής Καθηγητής, Σχολή Νομικής, ΕΚΠΑ
Βασίλειος Βουτσάκης, Επίκουρος Καθηγητής, Σχολή Νομικής, ΕΚΠΑ
Original Title:
Σύντηξη των Οριζόντων και Μία Ορθή Απάντηση: Ο H.-G. Gadamer και ο R. Dworkin για την αλήθεια και την αντικειμενικότητα στην ερμηνεία
Translated title:
Fusion of Horizons and One Right Answer: H.-G. Gadamer and R. Dworkin about the truth and objectivity in interpretation
In this paper, I argue that the two different approaches on interpretation, articulated by H.-G. Gadamer and R. Dworkin, share a great similarity, but are divided by a main difference. Both philosophers think of the interpretive truth as a distinct kind of truth, compared to that arriving from scientific thought. Interpretive truth is being achieved in an argumentative manner. The “fusion of horizons” (Horizontverschmelzung) or the “one right answer” are being achieved by the best argument that solves the interpretive dialog. Moreover, both share the idea that the best argument is the most plausible one, and not the most certain, something that makes them come closer to the Aristotelian and depart from the Cartesian train of thought about method and the epistemological status of interpretive/practical judgements.
Their main difference, as I argue, concerns the matter of the objectivity of our interpretive judgements. Although both refuse the rigid distinction between the interpretive subject and its object – a remnant of the cartesian distinction between res cogitans and res extensa –, Gadamer believes that das Gegebene – the tradition as the object of hermeneutics – disposes a relative autonomy in relation to the interpretive subject, something that Dworkin, in his disagreement with S. Fish, strongly refuses. The reason of this dissent consists in Gadamer’s belief that reflexion is always dependent on the opinion of the Other. The fusion of the horizons requires always two persons, with one of them, the Other, leading the conversation. Au contraire, Dworkin believes that our conceptions can be – and must be – independent of the Other, articulated in the most coherent and authentically adhered web of the interpretive subject. I conclude that, interpreted this way, Gadamer’s position is vulnerable to the criticism of relativism, while Dworkin’s idea of interpretive truth makes that truth transcendental and inaccessible to our finite nature.
Main subject category:
Law and Legislation
Other subject categories:
Philosophy of Law
interpretation, Geisteswissenschaften, law as literature, hermeneutics (Hermeneutik), hermeneutic circle (hermeneutischer Zirkel), interpretive concepts, fusion of horizons (Horizontverschmelzung), one right answer, truth, objectivity
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