Objective Intentionalism and Disagreement

Legal Theory 27 (4):316-351 (2021)
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Intentionalist theories of legal interpretation are often divided between objectivist and subjectivist variants. The former take an interpretation to be correct depending on what the reasonable/rational lawmaker intended or what the reasonable/rational audience thinks they intended. The latter take an interpretation to be correct where the interpretation is what the speaker actually intended. This paper argues that objectivism faces serious problems as it cannot deal with disagreement: Reasonable and rational people can often disagree as to what the interpretation of a text should be. It also defends subjectivism against criticisms by objectivists.



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David Tan
Deakin University

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