Starting from the Bottom: Informal Instructions

Kent Greenawalt

in Legal Interpretation

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199756131
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199855292 | DOI:
Starting from the Bottom: Informal Instructions

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This chapter analyzes the performance and meaning of instructions in various kinds of circumstances. Rather than beginning an overarching theory about performance and meaning, and their relationship, it asks how people involved would see things, after some reflection. This inquiry leads to skepticism about any simple, systematic theory about how performance relates to meaning. Discussing in turn firstly, instructions whose import is clear in context; secondly, instructions that are unclear in context because of incompleteness, vagueness, ambiguity, or a possible slip; and finally, instructions whose application is affected by changing conditions, the chapter concludes that one cannot reduce the best carrying out of informal instructions to any single criterion. Rather, a number of standards affect desirable performance.

Keywords: informal instructions; performance; meaning; reflection; changing conditions

Chapter.  16932 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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