Constitutional Interpretation: What's Wrong With ‘Original Intent’?

Terence Ball

in Reappraising Political Theory

Published in print November 1994 | ISBN: 9780198279952
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598753 | DOI:
 Constitutional Interpretation: What's Wrong With ‘Original Intent’?

Show Summary Details


This chapter takes a fresh look at the interpretive strategy of `originalism’ or `original intent’ and shows that this strategy is defective for a number of heretofore unsuspected reasons. Chief among these is that a thoroughgoing originalism would require one to accept the once‐credible but now‐discredited or defunct theories and vocabularies within whose terms the Founders thought about politics and framed the Constitution.

Keywords: American Founding; Hans‐Georg Gadamer; hermeneutics; interpretation; James Madison; original intent; US Constitution

Chapter.  8634 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.