Res Publica

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 231–248 | Cite as

The Constitutional Theatre

  • Olaf Tans


Constitutionalism is a typically modernist project in that it seeks to dictate social order by means of institutional design. This project, however, fails in two ways. Empirically, constitutionalism is confronted with the fact that constitutions have limited control over their social environment. Epistemologically, constitutionalism has great difficulty in finding a convincing foundational relation between abstract constitutional provisions and constitutional norms for concrete situations. On the basis of this poor record, it is hard to comprehend how constitutionalism remains such an influential factor in our polity. This article tries to explain our adherence to the philosophy of constitutional ordering by analysing its function in constitutional discourse.

constitutionalism constructivism discourse Dworkin epistemological foundationalism modernism 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Law International 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olaf Tans
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Public AdministrationUniversity of TwenteEnschedeThe Netherlands

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