Legislators’ Intentions and Unintentional Legislation

Jeremy Waldron

in Law and Disagreement

Published in print March 1999 | ISBN: 9780198262138
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682308 | DOI:
Legislators’ Intentions and Unintentional Legislation

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This chapter looks at the issue of the intentionality of statutes. It argues that, under the conditions of modern legislation, it is often implausible to describe legislative acts as intentional acts, even though they take place in an intentionally-organized context. It shows how Raz's thesis about authority (or a plausible version of that thesis) might nevertheless apply to legislative acts, despite the fact that they are not conceived as intentional acts. Then, it shows that the best arguments for the authority of statutes produced under these conditions are arguments which actually preclude any appeal to the intentions of particular legislators as a general interpretive strategy. The chapter ends with some further general comments on the significance of the considerations about legislation on which this text has been basing its arguments.

Keywords: intentionality; modern legislation; authority; intentional acts; legislature

Chapter.  14094 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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