The Libertarian Conception of the Public


in Constitutional Goods

Published in print March 2007 | ISBN: 9780199225798
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191706516 | DOI:
The Libertarian Conception of the Public

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This chapter begins by identifying the stages by which a claim of authority to rule others is progressively validated and argues that rule under a conception of public reason is part of authority's internal morality. It then identifies the libertarian conception of public reason as mutual cold respect between morally self-supporting persons. It discusses the historical origin of this conception in the downfall of a medieval constitution ordered to virtue and salvation, and it argues that the constitution of liberty rejected perfectionism overbroadly on the basis of a rejection of Christian perfectionism. The chapter then discusses the method by which it will sift from the constitution of liberty enduringly valuable elements of liberal constitutionalism. Elements reflecting the form of mutual recognition between independent agencies are preserved, while elements reflecting libertarianism's claim of self-sufficiency are rejected.

Keywords: authority; constitutionalism; despotism; res publica Christiana; constitution of liberty; mutual cold respect; self-supporting self

Chapter.  20375 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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