Statutory Interpretation and the Intentional(Ist) Stance

17 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2006

See all articles by Daniel B. Rodriguez

Daniel B. Rodriguez

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law

Mathew D. McCubbins

Department of Political Science and Law School, Duke University

Cheryl Boudreau

University of California, Davis

Abstract

Professors Cheryl Boudreau, Mathew D. McCubbins and Daniel B. Rodriguez assert that judges need not search for the legislature's actual intent in order to interpret a statute. Instead, judges should ask what statutes mean. Because legislatures are collectivities, it makes little sense to try to discern their actual intent. Rather, the authors borrow from cognitive science and philosophy, both of which emphasize that humans regularly impute intentions to collectivities to figure out the meaning of their actions. The authors then argue that judges should concern themselves with this metaphorical intent when interpreting statutes. In this way, the focus of the statutory interpretation debate should shift from intent to meaning, and judges should properly turn to trustworthy extrinsic aids to inform their interpretations of statutes.

Keywords: statutory interpretation

JEL Classification: K1

Suggested Citation

Rodriguez, Daniel B. and McCubbins, Mathew D. and Boudreau, Cheryl, Statutory Interpretation and the Intentional(Ist) Stance. Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, Vol. 38, 2005; San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 07-31. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=874780

Daniel B. Rodriguez (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Mathew D. McCubbins

Department of Political Science and Law School, Duke University ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

Cheryl Boudreau

University of California, Davis ( email )

One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
United States

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