- Mélanie Samson
This chapter assesses hermeneutics, which can refer to an art, a methodological paradigm, or a philosophical movement. In its primary sense, hermeneutics is the art of interpreting texts correctly. Today, hermeneutic method is practised across the human sciences and applied to the study of all types of written texts, actions, and other meaningful material. The chapter then focuses on the relationship between hermeneutics and human sciences. It also examines hermeneutics as a methodological approach used in legal research and the practice of law. There are two broad notions of legal interpretation. According to the first — the prevailing and most traditional notion — the interpretation of the sources of law is knowledge-based; the interpreter’s task is to extract the pre-existing meaning of a legal text, as set out by its author. According to the second notion of legal interpretation, the activity involves the interpreter’s will. The interpreter’s task is to attribute meaning to a text, by choosing from several possible meanings.