The separation of powers is linked to language and institutions. Collective action requires solutions to speech act problems. Constitutions provide solutions by separating the task of producing authoritative texts used to coordinate collective action from the interpretation and application of these texts. The performance of actions in line with constitutions demands ongoing interpretation, and different strategies are involved (textual and contractual). State power is linked to the ability to use texts to coordinate collective action on a larger scale and over longer time horizons. Constitutions do not just constrains states: they also enable collective action toward socially desired ends. Three misconceptions of the separation of powers are discussed: (1) that the separation of powers limits state capacity; (2) that it is irrelevant outside of the Anglo-American and Continental European world; and (3) that it is a constraint on the ability to use state power for social ends.
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