6.3 The relationship between making, interpreting and applying rules

Although the processes of making, interpreting and applying rules can be explored separately, as we have done in this unit, it is important to realise that they are all part of one larger process. A new rule is often made because the interpretation and application of an existing rule does not solve the problems which that rule now has to confront. In turn, that new rule may be drafted in such a way that its interpretation leads to consequences that were unintended by the rule-maker, and the p
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Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Licence - see http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ - Original copyright The Open University

5.2.2 Avoiding absurdity

One such strategy is to be as true to the literal meaning as is possible but to ensure, so far as the words allow, an interpretation which avoids absurdity. In the case of the rule I have just set out, this would mean an interpretation which ensured that only those customers who had caused breakages were obliged to pay for them.

This approach works well in most cases, but not always. Take, for example, another rule posted up in a shop selling china and glass:

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Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Licence - see http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ - Original copyright The Open University

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