The central case method in The Nature of Legislative Intent

Andrea Dolcetti*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In The Nature of Legislative Intent, Richard Ekins explores the nature of legislative intent and, in doing so, the nature of the legislature. To approach the nature of the legislature, Ekins employs the central case method. Although there are good reasons to employ this method, the book does not include a full explanation of the methodology that underpins its approach. This article analyses the methodology that supports the identification of the central case of the legislature, with a view to discussing some aspects of Ekins's understanding of the nature of the legislature. My analysis also raises some questions that suggest new ways to engage with the arguments offered in Ekins's illuminating study of legislative intent; and future avenues for exploring the nature of the legislature, as an independent object of enquiry and/or as related to our understanding of the nature of law. In the first part of the article, I illustrate John Finnis's version of the central case method, which is the main source of inspiration for Ekins's methodology. In the second part, I draw upon these elements to raise some questions about three main aspects of Ekins's understanding of the nature of the legislature: the relationship between the well-formed legislature and the idea of a good polity; the notion that the well-formed legislature acts for good reasons; and the relationship between the well-formed legislature and the central case of law.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-60
Number of pages20
JournalAmerican Journal of Jurisprudence
Volume64
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Central case method
  • John Finnis
  • Legislature
  • Methodology
  • Richard Ekins

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