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Time and timelessness in constitutional thought

Poole, Thomas ORCID: 0000-0001-9721-7502 (2020) Time and timelessness in constitutional thought. Res Publica. ISSN 1356-4765

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s11158-020-09464-2


This paper considers the character of moral peoplehood, our life as a people, and the rules and principles through which that life is expressed. In so far as those rules and principles take legal form, as determining the ground rules of association and denoting political rights and duties, this moral community is also a jural community. The paper engages with Bernard Williams’s thought with a view to resolving the tension between two conceptions of the constitution that differ in their account of the relationship between norms and time. Williams offers the prospect of a non-Kantian liberalism that grows out of the habits and minds of persons but which does not collapse into relativism. I argue that Williams’s account of moral personhood devotes insufficient attention to the dynamics of moral deliberation, essential to the growth of personhood. I argue that Williams’s account of moral peoplehood is similarly deficient in that it overlooks the role constitutional deliberation plays in constructing the jural community. Plural politics requires accepted ground rules and the sense that we are a unity of plural associates, and this is what constitutional deliberation aims to provide.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 The Author
Divisions: Law
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
K Law > K Law (General)
Date Deposited: 26 May 2020 11:39
Last Modified: 30 May 2024 17:51

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