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Title: Democracy and constitutional recognition : the political role of nationalism in modern democracy
Author: Breda, Vito
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2004
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Does modern democracy require social cohesion? Is the nation-state the answer to this need? Is the constitutional protection of republican values enough? In Europe, the template of the national state bounded by a liberal constitution has provided the answer to these questions. However, authors like Habermas and Tully argue that the idea of a substantive relation between a homogeneous national-population and the constitutional state is stretched to its limits by pluralism and globalisation. On the one hand, pluralism pushes the template of the nation-state, which assumes the ethnic uniformity of the population under the umbrella of a republican constitution, to its limits. On the other hand, international organisations like the United Nations and the European Union have taken on the role of guarantor of republican values. Habermas proposes a new solution to the problematic relation between republican values and democracy. He asserts that a new model of social cohesion is needed: a democratic society should be founded exclusively on the acceptance of a system of constitutionally established rules which are the logical result of the historical evolution of constitution making. In contrast to Habermas, Tully argues that a democratic process based on the acceptance of liberal values will provide the template for a modem multinational society. In this thesis, I will point out the democratic incoherence and the internal shortcomings of these proposals, and I shall argue that a theoretical alternative of the national state should radically re-consider the role of national identities in a modem pluralistic society. Constitutional law can be more than formally legal only if two normative conditions are satisfied: public discourse in the public sphere and an extension of the later includes the recognition of multiculturalism. Thus, certain demands originating from more general claims to the legal protection for national particularities will not pass the rationality test of a democratic debate. The point is, however, that this can be considered as normative presuppositions in the public sphere only after discussion and it would not exclude the possibility of a constitutional system which promotes and defends national identity/ies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available