Political Morality and Constitutional Settlements

This paper presents a way of thinking about how to respond to the pluralism of modern societies that avoids any commitment to contractualist norms of political justification. The argument developed appeals to the notion of a constitutional settlement. Constitutional settlements are complex on-going social practices that both express certain values to which political societies are committed and establish procedures for resolving disputes among members of these societies. As such, they are a product of both moral commitment and the balance of power. The paper shows how constitutional settlements relate to issues of stability and non-subjugation in politics, and explains how they can ground a distinction between justice and legitimacy.

Published in: Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy
2013 Volume 16, Issue 4 Pages 481-499