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Democracy

Arts and Humanities

Robert L Tsai

Publication Year

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Full-Text Articles in Political Science

Sovereignty As Discourse, Robert Tsai Dec 2007

Sovereignty As Discourse, Robert Tsai

Robert L Tsai

This is a review of Howard Schweber's book, "The Language of Liberal Constitutionalism" (Cambridge University Press, 2007). Schweber argues that "the creation of a legitimate constitutional regime depends on a prior commitment to employ constitutional language, and that such a commitment is both the necessary and sufficient condition for constitution making." I critique the power and limits of this reformulated Lockean thesis, as well as Schweber's secondary claims that, for constitutional language to remain legitimate, it must increasingly become autonomous, specialized, and secular.


Democracy's Handmaid, Robert Tsai Jan 2006

Democracy's Handmaid, Robert Tsai

Robert L Tsai

Democratic theory presupposes open channels of dialogue, but focuses almost exclusively on matters of institutional design writ large. The philosophy of language explicates linguistic infrastructure, but often avoids exploring the political significance of its findings. In this Article, Professor Tsai draws from the two disciplines to reach new insights about the democracy-enhancing qualities of popular constitutional language. Employing examples from the founding era, the struggle for black civil rights, the religious awakening of the last two decades, and the search for gay equality, he presents a model of constitutional dialogue that emphasizes common modalities and mobilized vernacular. According to this ...