Legitimation by Constitution. A Dialogue on Political Liberalism

Gio, 05/19/2022 - 17:00 / 18:30

Aula Magna, Via Parenzo

Speaker: Frank I. Michelman , Alessadro Ferrara ,

Authors: Prof. Frank I. Michelman (Harvard University) and Prof. Alessandro Ferrara (University of Rome Tor Vergata)


This book recollects and extends a series of exchanges between the two authors, conducted over past decades and inspired by the constitution-centred ‘liberal principle of legitimacy’ proposed by John Rawls in his work on political liberalism. Rawls tied the possibility of a liberally just and stable democratic government in modern pluralized societies to a dualist conception of democracy—a subjection of ground-level majoritarian lawmaking to the constraints of a higher-law constitution that most or all citizens could find acceptable as a framework for their politics. From a shared standpoint of sympathy with the aims of the political-liberal philosophy and its contained idea of legitimation-by-constitution, the exchanges work their ways through difficulties standing in the way of that conception’s fulfilment on terms consistent with political liberalism’s ideas about political justification and
avoidance of oppression. In three parts, these chapters focus first on tensions between government by the people and government by consent, and some resulting mysteries of democratic constitutional foundations. Next they take up challenges posed to judicial and other authorities charged with concrete applications of typically and necessarily abstract constitutional law. Finally, they turn to a magnification of these mysteries, tensions, and challenges under the lenses of ambition towards transnational legal ordering. Along the way, the discussions treat with works of other leading contemporary theorists of constitutional democracy, including Bruce Ackerman, Ronald Dworkin, and Jürgen Habermas.

Introduction by
Prof. Antonio Punzi (Luiss University)

Interventions by
Prof. Thom Brooks (Durham University)
Prof. Sergio Fabbrini (Luiss University)
Prof. Gianfranco Pellegrino (Luiss University)
Prof. Filiberto E. Brozzetti (Luiss University)