Introduction: The Aim of Constitutional Theory


in Constitutional Goods

Published in print March 2007 | ISBN: 9780199225798
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191706516 | DOI:
Introduction: The Aim of Constitutional Theory

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This introductory chapter defines liberal constitutional theory as the search for a public reason capable of justifying state coercion to those who share a confidence in individual worth. It criticizes Rawls's understanding of public reason for excluding comprehensive views regarding the most fundamental things. Such a reason privileges one conception of public reason over others and so fails as a public reason all liberals could accept. The chapter questions the widespread assumption that disagreement regarding fundamentals is reasonable among liberals, arguing that diverse liberal sects can agree on the conception of public reason that best fulfils the liberal confidence. Such a conception includes libertarian, egalitarian, and communitarian constitutional paradigms as constituent elements of a complex whole. It disputes the view that liberalism must be neutral toward conceptions of the good, arguing that the model liberal constitution permits limiting rights for the sake of goods essential to individual dignity.

Keywords: Rawls; public reason; reasonable pluralism; liberal confidence; overlapping consensus; convergent consensus; complex whole; constitutional goods; liberal neutrality; liberal perfectionism

Chapter.  17807 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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