The Constitutional term "war"
mdudziak at law.usc.edu
Wed Aug 9 09:23:24 PDT 2006
Just an historical aside, in light of the original question of the
constitutional meaning of "war".
A while ago I posted a question on this list & the legal history
list: "when was World War II?" The answers were all over the map. This
helps to show that even if the term "war" can be narrowed down, and even if
we're talking about a formally declared war as opposed to slipperier ones
like Vietnam (when did it begin??) or the "war on terror," "war" is
indeterminate and difficult to pluck out amid an ongoing environment of
At 07:39 AM 8/9/2006, Douglas Edlin wrote:
>Based on what I see in these posts, and that may not be enough to go on,
>you seem to be assuming a criterial semantic view (i.e., to speak
>meaningfully about a concept we must first share an understanding of some
>essential features of that concept). Many people take this view (or
>assume it), but others have argued persuasively against it. Criterial
>semantics may work for natural kind concepts like penguin (although,
>notice that you take flight as a necessary condition of "birdness" and
>that may not always work). If bachelorhood (or bachelor-ness) is a
>criterial concept, then your account may work for this concept,
>too. Again, notice though that we also may genuinely disagree about the
>meaning of that concept: you say that a bachelor is an unmarried man who
>is otherwise free to marry and I (might) say a bachelor is simply a man
>who is not married. The point is that we can agree about a certain
>criterion (we don't at this point disagree that bachelors must be men) and
>disagree about another (must a bachelor be religiously -- or otherwise --
>free to marry). You say that this means I am "relying upon diffusion in
>the referent because the function of the term 'bachelor' is to denote
>dating eligibility." I see this differently. I think you and I may
>disagree about the concept bachelor-ness. Maybe it will turn out that one
>of us is wrong about the meaning of this concept. Does this mean that you
>and I cannot have a meaningful conversation in which we both refer to
>"bachelors"? I don't see why not. Malla's example of a metaphorical
>meaning of triangle reinforces this notion.
>All of this is prelude to the more significant concern, though. Criterial
>semantics may work tolerably well for criterial and natural kind
>concepts. It seems seriously problematic, though, for interpretive
>concepts. If some people see a bean bag and some people see a chair, how
>are we possibly going to achieve adequate agreement about what justice is
>for us to be able to talk about it? Interpretive semantics instead holds
>that we don't have to agree about a canonical set of criteria as a
>prerequisite to meaningful exchange of ideas about a concept, even if we
>don't share precisely the same concept (as viewed from a reference theory
>Sean Wilson wrote:
>>... sorry I made a slight mistake. This is not a proper comparison.
>>Saying that the Pope is a bachelor is a language game similiar to one
>>that says a penguin is a bird. The penguin looks like a bird, but cannot
>>really function as one. (birds fly and so forth). Referents that have
>>form over function should be thought of as "de jure" referents (by the
>>form), but referents that have function over form should be thought of as
>>"de facto" (in fact) referents. The pope is a de jure bachelor and the
>>penguin is a de jure "bird."
>>(Now, if the Pope falls from grace and starts dating someone, all bets
>>are off. The hypothetical assumes he is, in fact, impossible to date. If
>>that assumption is violated, then of course he is in the family of
>>Here are some de facto puzzles: is a living room bean bag a "chair?" It
>>doesn't look like it but it functions as such. Hence, campaign dollars
>>are "speech" in the sense that living room bean bags are "chairs."
>>*/Sean Wilson <whoooo26505 at yahoo.com>/* wrote:
>> One who is unmarried but not eligible is a "bachelor" much in the
>> same way that dollars are speech.
>>Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
>>Penn State University
>>Do You Yahoo!?
>>Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
>Douglas E. Edlin
>Department of Political Science
>P.O. Box 1773
>Carlisle, Pennsylvania 17013
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Mary L. Dudziak
Judge Edward J. and Ruey L. Guirado Professor of Law, History and Political
University of Southern California Law School
CA 90089-0071 phone: 213.740.4789 fax: 213.740.5502 e-mail:
mdudziak at law.usc.edu
2006-07 Address while on leave:
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Sharon, MA 02067
newest book: Legal Borderlands (with Leti Volpp):
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