Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Addition to "Strings of Thought" (1/30/18)

Legislative Intent

1/30/18  Legislative “intent” lies in legislatures’ speech acts and not legislators’ speech acts.  That is, legislative “intent” is the speaker meaning of legislatures not legislators—confusing the two is a category mistake. For example, when the legislature adopts a rule requiring drivers to drive on the right side of the road, the legislature has performed a directive speech act adopting a rule to some end or purpose (such as changing driving patterns to enhance road safety).  When the legislature censures someone, it has performed an expressive speech act condemning someone for some end or purpose (such as discouraging future bad behavior on the part of public officials).  The different purposes (and the plans involved in such purposes) distinguish the different types of speech acts. Recognizing this distinction between legislature and legislator speech acts avoids pseudo-quandaries such as “How can we ever aggregate the subjective intent of countless legislators to determine legislative intent?” or “How do we include the intent of a legislator who votes for a bill for unrelated reasons?” Instead, we ask: “What is the objective bill or proposal (and the concomitant purpose or plan or both) properly adopted by the legislature?”  We also ask: “What are the objective concepts involved?” while acknowledging such concepts can have yet-to-be explored threads and extensions.

1/30/18 A legislature typically speaks best when it adopts a bill or other proposal (and any concomitant purpose or plan) after reasonable debate by legislators.   Although individual legislators’ speaker meaning in such debates can be highly relevant evidence of the legislature’s speaker meaning, legislators’ speech acts are not legislatures’ speech acts. 

The entire post of "Strings of Thought" can be found here.

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