Meaning and Context

[M]eaning isn’t just about letters; it necessarily depends on context. So if you care about letting the baker choose which letters to write, you have to let him choose his context. In an earlier Public Discourse essay I offered counterexamples to Kagan’s view that should appeal to progressives. But Alito illustrated the same point at oral argument:

So if someone came in and said: I want a cake for—to celebrate our wedding anniversary, and I want it to say “November 9, the best day in history,” okay, sells them a cake. Somebody else comes in, wants exactly the same words on the cake, he says: “Oh, is this your anniversary?” He says: “No, we’re going to have a party to celebrate Kristallnacht.” He would have to do that?

Sherif Girgis

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