The Constitution of Good Societies

Edited by Karol Soltan, Stephen L. Elkin

Paperback - £28.95

Publication date:

15 September 1996

Length of book:

228 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271025551

The purpose of this volume is to help develop, through a variety of exploratory essays, the art and science of institutional design. The authors look at a variety of good societies as artifacts, as products—at least partly—of design, and consider how such societies can be crafted. They identify themselves with the New Constitutionalism movement, which aims to develop and promote the knowledge necessary for institutional reform and institutional creation through understanding the designer's, creator's, founder's, or reformer's perspective.

The first part of the volume considers some of the boundaries of what is humanly possible in politico-economic designs and the role in them of deliberation and the processes of adapting to limits. The second part considers different ways of exercising constitutionalist judgment analyzing a variety of cases, including general visions of the good society. Looking at whole societies, and at complexes of institutions, complements and informs the picture of the institutional microscale. Understanding the microscale, on the other hand, often makes the difference between empty slogans and realistic political proposals.

Contributors are Karol Edward Soltan, Elinor Ostrorn, Viktor J. Vanberg, James lvi. Buchanan, John S. Dryzek, Charles 'X". Anderson, Stephen U. Elkin, Car Alperovirz, and Philip Green.

“The book’s essays. . . . constitute a serious inquiry into the foundations of political reconstruction. In the spirit of James Madison, they are written for the serious citizen with the expectation that this may include both political scientists and policymakers.”

—Ron Christenson, Perspectives on Political Science