The Dynamic Consistency Question Against Originalism

6 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2019

Date Written: September 6, 2019


How laws should be understood depends partially on philosophy of language and moral philosophy. By arguing for original meaning interpretation of the Constitution, originalists implicitly pick particular visions of philosophy of langauge. In other visions, what "original meaning" even means cannot even be clearly defined. Having recognized this, one can still ask a question based on a particular vision of philosophy of language and moral philosophy. If people can be considered at least approximately optimizing some objective (or utility) function when interpreting written texts, there are chances that dynamic inconsistency, or sometimes called as time inconsistency, arises. That is, even if everything in life can deterministically be known, how I today intend my words to be used tomorrow may not be how I actually use my words tomorrow. In these circumstances, should we still stick to the original meaning interpretation of texts, given that change in meaning may be related to people making an improvement in utility?

Keywords: dynamic inconsistency, time inconsistency, originalism, philosophy of language, optimization, original meaning, consensus, original intent, utilitarian moral philosophy, deep learning

Suggested Citation

Heartspring, William, The Dynamic Consistency Question Against Originalism (September 6, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

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