Liberalism, Constitutionalism, and Democracy

Liberalism, Constitutionalism, and Democracy

Liberalism, Constitutionalism, and Democracy

Liberalism, Constitutionalism, and Democracy

Synopsis

This groundbreaking book develops a new theory of constitutional democracy. Leading political philosopher Russell Hardin shows how social coordination rather than mutual advantage lies at the heart of liberal constitutionalism.

Excerpt

Perhaps an editor might begin a reformation in some such way as this. Divide his paper into 4 chapters, heading the 1st, Truths. 2nd, Probabilities. 3rd, Possibilities. 4th, Lies. the first chapter would be very short, as it would contain [only such things] as the editor would be willing to risk his own reputation for their truth. the 2nd would contain what, from a mature consideration of all circumstances, his judgment should conclude to be probably true. This, however, should rather contain too little than too much. the 3rd & 4th should be professedly for those readers who would rather have lies for their money than the blank paper they would occupy.

Thomas Jefferson, letter of 14 June 1807 to John Norvell

I would like to think that some of what follows in this book fits in Jefferson's first chapter under Truths and that most of it at least fits in his second chapter under Probabilities. No doubt, some readers will think far too much of it fits in the third chapter under Possibilities, and maybe some detractors will even place much of it in the fourth chapter under Lies, although they might be gracious enough to entitle that chapter Errors. Jefferson omitted what must be a very big chapter for many works, perhaps especially in political theory: Meaningless Claims. the physicist Wolfgang Pauli retorted to a proposed explanation of some phenomenon in physics that, 'It's not even wrong'. One quails at the thought of how much of political theorizing a Pauli would find to be not even wrong. Perhaps that should be the title of Jefferson's fifth chapter: Claims That Are Not Even Wrong. I would therefore be pleased, although perhaps also a bit humbled, to discover that some parts of my claims here are at least wrong.

The central argument of this book is that liberalism, constitutionalism, and democracy, as well as, specifically, liberal constitutional democracy all work, when they do, because they serve the mutual advantage of the politically effective groups in the society . . .

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