Can the Law Imply More than it Says? On Some Pragmatic Aspects of Strategic Speech on SSRN (H/T Legal Theory Blog):
The content of the law is often determined by what legal authorities communicate. Both lawyers and philosophers of language know very well, however, that the full content of communication in a natural language often goes beyond the meaning of the words and sentences uttered by the speaker. Semantics and syntax are essential vehicles for conveying communicative content, but the content conveyed on particular occasions of speech is often pragmatically enriched by various factors. The standard model in the pragmatics literature, however, focuses on ordinary conversations, in which the parties are presumed to engage in a cooperative exchange of information. The legal context offers an example of conversation that is strategic in nature. Part of my purpose here is to show that the pragmatics of strategic conversation has certain features that deviate from the standard model.