Legislative Intent in Law's Empire


  • I am grateful to Maris Köpcke Tinturé and Paul Yowell for very helpful comments on an earlier draft; the usual disclaimer applies.


This article considers Dworkin's influential argument against legislative intent in chapter 9 of Law's Empire. The argument proves much less than is often assumed for it fails to address the possibility that the institution of the legislature may form and act on intentions. Indeed, analysis of Dworkin's argument lends support to that possibility. Dworkin aims to refute legislative intent in order to elucidate his own theory of statutory interpretation. That theory fails to explain plausibly legislative action. Dworkin's argument does not refute legislative intent but instead suggests there is reason to think that the legislature is capable of intentional action.