The concepts “spravedlyvist” and “pravda” in Ukrainian legal texts of the second half of the 16th–the first half of the 17th century)

Keywords: justice, truth, righteousness, verity, Early Modern Ukrainian culture, Ukrainian philosophy


The paper studies the vocabulary the Ukrainian intellectuals of the second half of the 16th–the early 17th century used to signify a number of moral, ethical, and legal concepts. The first part of the article examines legal documents, including the Statutes of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (1588) and several court documents.

The author comes to the following conclusions: (1) the lexeme “justice” is consistently used in legal documents written in Old Ukrainian (Old Belarusian) to denote practices related to litigation and acquires clear features of a legal concept which corresponds to the Latin iustitio; (2) the study of the aforementioned texts shows that the semantic field of the lexeme “justice” does not include any reference to moral and ethical norms and principles which is customary in modern language. Instead, semantic fields of both old and modern concepts of “justice” intersect in the fact that now, like in the early modern times, it means impartial attitude towards someone and a set of actions that comply with legal norms; (3) the lexemes “fairly/justly”, “truly”, and “true” have rather vague semantic fields that often overlap, while the adverbs “fairly/justly” and “truly” often function as synonyms; (4) the use of lexemes “fairly/justly”, “truly”, and “true” is neither consistent nor structured. They belong to the sphere of everyday speech and cannot claim to belong to the conceptual apparatus; (5) the lexemes “truth”, “righteousness”, and “verity” are almost never used in the legal domain of that time.

Although the field of jurisprudence included the concepts that were very important for the communicational sphere in early modern Ukrainian society, it could not cover all its needs.

Author Biography

Larysa Dovga, National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy

Doctor of sciences in philosophy, professor


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Dovga, L. (2020). The concepts “spravedlyvist” and “pravda” in Ukrainian legal texts of the second half of the 16th–the first half of the 17th century). Sententiae, 39(2), 46-63.


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