Can one use "to the effect of" as it is used in the sentence below to mean "along the lines of"?
The foregoing imposes the conclusion that the CFI’s definition of purely sporting rules as those having nothing to do with economic activity was not intended to be taken literally; instead, “having nothing to do with economic activity” must be read to the effect of “pursuing primarily non-economic objectives.”
"To the effect of" tends to be a useless expression. "Along the lines of" is hardly any better.
I don't know what prompts people to use either one.
But to answer you specifically: Yes -- I suppose "along the lines of" can be subbed in for "to the effect of." They both have the same consequence of hedging the point, and they both do so in the same way. So I suppose that they are interchangeable here -- at least in the sense of "one is as bad as the other."
That entire passage was remarkable for its opacity.
Sometimes one has to be inexact, which is why I was wondering whether "to the effect of" would be an equivalent of "along the lines of." I think there's another option: "must be read in the sense of..."
And I think the sentence would read better with the phrase REMOVED, as it is scarcely helping to come up with others that are just as bad.
Unless you mean by "have to be inexact" that this passage is "meant to obfuscate," then it should say:
Apparently the CFI’s definition of "purely sporting rules" ("those having nothing to do with economic activity") can't be taken literally. Instead, “having nothing to do with economic activity” must really mean “pursuing primarily non-economic objectives.”
"The CFI defines "purely sporting rules" as "those having nothing to do with economic activity." But we can see from the preceding (whatever it was) that they don't mean it literally. Instead, the rule must mean "pursuing primarily non-economic activity."