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Strong ConstitutionsSocial-Cognitive Origins of the Separation of Powers$
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Maxwell Cameron

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199987443

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199987443.001.0001

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Social-Cognitive Origins of the Separation of Powers

Social-Cognitive Origins of the Separation of Powers

(p.15) 2 Social-Cognitive Origins of the Separation of Powers
Strong Constitutions

Maxwell A. Cameron

Oxford University Press

All institutions are material products of the mind that structure the world of social action and cognition. The evolution of language from speech to literacy and print is analyzed in relation to collective action problems associated with the intention of the author, the truth or validity of an utterance, and the context of its application. Just as all technologies of communication produce monopolies of power, the separation of powers is an effect of writing in which literacy is harnessed to augment state power. Drawing on the work of Habermas, each branch of government is analyzed in terms of the discourse it monopolizes. The executive monopolizes speech acts linked to order; the legislature monopolizes the production of general rules in the form of legal texts; the judiciary monopolize the interpretation of these texts and their application in particular cases. Together they create a grammar for collective actions that are legally justifiable.

Keywords:   Institutions, monopolies of power, executive, legislature, judiciary

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