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Max Weber Occasional Lectures

occasionaltalkspicThe Max Weber Occasional Lectures are informal seminars by distinguished scholars invited by members of the Programme as the academic year develops.

The aim of this initiative is to enrich the academic life of the Programme and the EUI by taking advantage of scholars passing through Europe and Italy and inviting them to stop over in Florence and deliver a talk about their most recent research and upcoming books. Occasional Talks are also given by scholars who happen to be visiting the EUI for other purposes already, such as a thesis defense.

Occasional Talks may also be linked to a Multidisciplinary Workshop organized by Fellows, one of the Thematic Groups,  an ad hoc reading group, or some other activity. Fellows not listed in any of the Thematic Research Groups are particularly encouraged to put forward the names of suitable candidates for Occasional Talks.




Timothy Endicott (University of Oxford)
'Interpretation and homonymous activities'

14 December 2017, 17:00-18:30
Badia, Emeroteca 



Interpretation is a process of reasoning to support an answer to a question as to the meaning of some object. 

How, then, can we explain the modern practice of lawyers and judges, who sometimes offer something that they call an ‘interpretation’ in support of a conclusion that is incompatible with the meaning of the object that they purport to interpret?

In such a case, whether the interpreter is (1) aiming to help the lawmaker to achieve the lawmaker’s real purpose, or (2) opposing the policy of the lawmaker, it would be accurate to describe what they are doing as reasoning to support a departure from the act of the lawmaker.

But I will argue that the common modern practice of calling such reasoning processes ‘interpretation’ is not necessarily deceitful or misconceived. It is to be understood by the analogies between such reasoning processes, and the core instances of interpretation. That is, the word ‘interpretation’ is used analogically, or homonymously.

The implication, which I will address, is that the word ‘meaning’ is, likewise, homonymous.

About the Speaker

Timothy Endicott has been Professor of Legal Philosophy since 2006, and a Fellow in Law at Balliol College since 1999. Professor Endicott writes on Jurisprudence and Constitutional and Administrative Law, with special interests in law and language and interpretation. He served as the Dean of the Faculty of Law for two terms, from October 2007 to September 2015. 

He is the author of Vagueness in Law (OUP 2000), and Administrative Law, 3rd ed (OUP 2015).

After graduating with the AB in Classics and English, summa cum laude, from Harvard, he completed the MPhil in Comparative Philology in Oxford, studied Law at the University of Toronto, and practised as a litigation lawyer in Toronto. He completed the DPhil in Law in Oxford in 1998. He was appointed by Universidad Carlos III de Madrid to a Cátedra de Excelencia during 2016.

He has been General Editor of the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies since 2015.


MW Occasional Lectures 2017-18

  • 22 November 2017, 17:00-18:30
    Andrea Sangiovanni (King's College London)
    Badia Emeroteca
  • 14 December 2017,  time tbc
    Timothy Endicott (University of Oxford)
    Badia, Emeroteca
  • 11 June 2018, 17:00-18:30
    Samuel Moyn (Yale Law School)
    Badia Emeroteca

Read the abstract of past MWP Occasional Lectures


Page last updated on 05 December 2017