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Vol 21 No 9 Sept/Oct 2016

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Constitutional Goods

ISBN13: 9780199225798
Published: March 2007
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Paperback reissue
Price: £38.99

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This book aims to distil the essentials of liberal constitutionalism from the jurisprudence and practice of contemporary liberal-democratic states. Most constitutional theorists have despaired of a liberal consensus on the fundamental goals of constitutional order. Instead they have contented themselves either with agreement on lower-level principles on which those who disagree on fundamentals may coincidentally converge, or, alternatively with a process for translating fundamental disgreement into acceptable laws.

Alan Brudner suggests a conception of fundamental justice that liberals of competing philosophic schools may accept as fulfilling their own basic commitments. He argues that the model liberal-democratic constitution is best understood as a unity of three constitutional frameworks: libertarian, egalitarian, and communitarian. Each of these has a particular conception of public reason. Brudner criticizes each of these frameworks insofar as its organizing conception claims to be fundamental, and moves forward to suggest an Hegelian conception of public reason within which each framework is contained as a constituent element of a whole.

When viewed in this light, the liberal constitution embodies a surprising synthesis. It reconciles a commitment to individual liberty and freedom of conscience with the perfectionist idea that the state ought to cultivate a type of personality whose fundamental ends are the goods essential to dignity. Such a reconciliation, the author suggests, may attract competing liberalisms to a consensus on an inclusive conception of public reason under which political authority is validated for those who share a confidence in the individual's inviolable worth.

  • Presents an original theory of constitutional liberalism, as reconciling the commitment to individual liberty and the cultivation of a personality whose ends are the goods essential to human dignity
  • Provides legal positions on such controversial issues as reverse discrimination, hate speech and pornography, physician-assisted suicide, same-sex marriage, early stage abortion, and the duty to accommodate cultural practices discordant with liberalism
  • Includes rich comparative analysis that draws widely from the constitutional law of several liberal democracies, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Germany, South Africa, and India

Constitutional and Administrative Law
Introduction: The Aim of Constitutional Theory
Part One: Liberty
1. The Libertarian Conception of the Public
2. Constitutional Principles: Civil Rights
3. Constitutional Principles: Political Rights
Part Two: Equality
4. The Egalitarian Principle of Fundamental Justice
5. Self-Authorship and Substantive Justice
6. Self-Rule and Procedural Justice
7. Social and Economic Rights
Part Three: Community
8. Hegel's Idea of Sittlichkeit
9. Sex, Family, and Self-Authorship
10. The Liberal Duty to Recognize Cultures
11. Consociationalism