Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My Ideal Constitution: A five part breakdown


 Introduction

So, now that we know what makes a constitution legitimate, let’s figure out how to make one. What would an ideal social contract look like?

Let’s go back to the four levels of government I described last week. Of the four, only the first two are determined by the constitution: purpose and power. I’ve already written extensively on what the ideal purpose of government should be, arguing for the protection of the universal rights to life, liberty, and property while wielding the minimum amount of force and coercion. Since only these rights are universal and the use of force to restrict them is universally held to be wrong, this would maximize the legitimacy of our government by minimizing those opposed to the force we wield. So we’ve covered the first level.

What we need to discuss in greater detail is the second level: power. Specifically, what powers should we give government to enable it to best serve that purpose? And how do we shape the bodies that will determine how and when to wield those powers? I’ve identified five issues regarding government power that are important to consider in shaping an “ideal” constitution. Each issue can be addressed by several competing approaches to power, and each approach has its pros and cons. However, I feel that some solutions are preferable to others towards the end of protecting liberty, and it’s important to explain why.

I’ve decided that these five issues are unique enough to discuss individually, as a separate topic, devoting one post to each. But taken in conjunction, the next five blog entries will illustrate some of the most important factors to consider in forming an ideal constitution. If you want to read all five at once, either scroll up the page or use the hyperlinks I’ve provided below:

Part I: General powers vs. specific powers

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