Chapter

The Paths of Constitutional Theory

N. W. Barber

in The Constitutional State

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780199585014
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595318 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199585014.003.0001

Series: Oxford Constitutional Theory

The Paths of Constitutional Theory

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This chapter outlines the methodology of interpretive constitutional theory and locates it amongst other approaches within the discipline. It argues that constitutional theory requires an interpretative account of constitutional institutions. This account can only be conducted within an ethical framework, a framework which enables us to pick out and illuminate important features of the practice studied. Other parts of constitutional theory — historically-oriented accounts, critical accounts and so forth — presuppose an interpretive account. But the relationship goes both ways: historical and critical accounts also inform interpretive accounts. A historical account of the state, for instance, may cast light on the factors that lead the state to flourish or which threaten its existence. Given that the state is of importance, these factors are also shown to be of significance — and may therefore form part of a good interpretive account of the state.

Keywords: interpretive constitutional theory; state; constitutional institutions

Chapter.  8149 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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