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CALUMET . intercultural law and humanities review
ISSN 2465-0145 (on-line)
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Reading the Will through the Lens of an Intercultural Jurist
Caputo R.
The essay analyses the issues that arise in the drafting and interpretation of the last will and testament, exploring the premise that the meaning of each variable depends on its interactions within its cultural contexts of reference. In multicultural and multi-religious societies, interpreting human behaviour or legal acts means that judges and other legal professionals have to figure out the meaning of objects, facts and words from the point of view of another culture, precisely that which the social actor actually assumes. This operation implies the reconstruction of a specific view of the world. Inside of it, and only within it, will it be possible to determine the meanings of things, gestures and words belonging to that particular culture. This point is particularly important with regard to the issue of interpretations of the will in the regulation of inheritance. The aim of this essay is to demonstrate— including through the analysis of specific legal cases— that certain factors extrinsic to the will, such as the customs, mentality, and living environment of the testator, should be instrumental to the interpretation of the will even when the written text appears to be, or indeed is, clear. Despite the fact that any hermeneutic operation should always start from the written evidence (the text of the will), it deserves to be read in light of the author’s culture, according to its anthropological dimensions. From this perspective, the essay will explore the use of an intercultural approach within Italian law in the interpretation and the drafting of the will by “translating” the culturally or religiously connoted values of the testator in order to arrive at his originally intended purposes.


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