chapter  Six
15 Pages

Toward a Public Values Philosophy of the Constitution

WithStephen M. Griffin

This chapter explores the public values alternative within the framework of John Rawls's theory of justice. A relatively new type of constitutional theory involves applying moral and political philosophy to explain, justify, and criticize aspects of constitutional law. The chapter addresses the development in this category of constitutional theory—the effort to construct a public values or "neorepublican" philosophy of the Constitution. The proponents of a public values philosophy reject the political theory of interest group pluralism that awards political victory to the greatest aggregation of private preferences. A society without public values is not a community but a "private society," held together by the calculations of everyone that existing social arrangements are in their personal self-interest, not by considerations of justice. The importance of a democratic attitude toward constitutional interpretation in a public values philosophy thus suggests the need for a reorientation of constitutional scholarship.