UVA Law Faculty Affiliations
In an elegantly written article, John Mikhail claims that the Necessary and Proper Clause of the Constitution grants to Congress an implied power to promote the general welfare. He is not talking here about the power needed to carry out the enumerated powers of Article I, Section 8. Rather he argues that the clause grants to Congress the power to enact laws that are necessary for the government of the United States to fulfill its purposes—one of which is to promote the general welfare of its people. Mikhail builds his argument for this provocative and interesting claim using the contributions of philosopher of language Paul Grice. For Grice, language is a cooperative enterprise and is thus governed by the principle that contributions to conversation should help facilitate the purpose of the particular exchange. Mikhail is particularly focused on Grice’s distinction between entailment and implicature. Roughly, an entailment derives from the semantic meaning of the statement alone while an implicature derives from the semantic and pragmatic meaning—the words in the particular context.