Constituting Republics: Toward Political Conception of the Constitutional Predicament
Elkin, Stephen L
Soltan, Karol E
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How is a good political order constituted? This work is a critical and constructive exploration of the problem of political constitution. Recent contributions to the study of this subject have often failed to adequately recognize its political nature, and have thus fallen short of being able to inform the challenges of actual constitutional development. This thesis argues for a broader conception of constitution that overcomes the limitations imposed by the legalist, formal-institutional, philosophic, and cultural-essentialist perspectives, and one that accounts for the political-ness of the matter more satisfactorily. Correctly understood, constitution of a well-ordered society is a practical, situated, and continuous predicament. From this broad view of political constitution the dissertation moves on to elaborate a more specific instance of it, the idea of pragmatic republicanism. Pragmatic republicanism is a comprehensive idea of political constitution, comprising four main elements: a realistic vision of a good polity, a set of thin-normative procedural orientations of constitution, a set of basic empirical conditions of constitution, and the concept of constitutional crafting that is tantamount to the activity of constituting in the midst of the preceding three elements. Once these concepts are outlined, the idea of pragmatic republicanism is applied, by way of illustration, to the case of Kyrgyzstan - an instructive case of a seemingly hopeless constitutional malaise. This work builds upon a very eclectic range of literature as it makes the case for an interdisciplinary and `problem-driven' understanding of political constitution. Contra some of the conventional criteria of good social science, this work defends the view that a proper understanding of constitution must accept conceptual complexity, deficit of parsimony, analytic uncertainty, and theoretical incompleteness as unavoidable and even necessary.