Meaning, Theory and the Interpretation of Constitutional Grants of Power
journal contributionposted on 29.10.2019, 09:11 by Michael Stokes
The High Court has often interpreted grants of power by determining the essential meaning of the terms in which the grants are formulated. This approach appears to have the advantage of certainty and objectivity. However, it may make interpretation too rigid. Grants of power have certain inherent features which push the Court towards a more ﬂ exible approach in which it exercises a choice to bring a new phenomenon within power by the way in which it baptises or names it. The article considers the extent to which two philosophical theories of meaning, criterialism and semantic realism, can reconcile this baptising approach with an essential meaning approach to interpretation. It concludes that both theories are limited in the extent to which they allow terms to extend to matters not in the contemplation of their users so that neither is capable of introducing the type of ﬂ exibility into the essential meaning approach which may be needed to reconcile it with the baptising of new phenomena so as to bring them within power.