By Johnathan O'Neill, Gary L. McDowell

The United States and Enlightenment Constitutionalism exhibits intimately the Enlightenment foundation of the U.S. structure. It offers brilliant research of the way the Enlightenment's uncomplicated principles have been reformulated within the context of the United States. it truly is quite winning in bringing out the competing lines of Enlightenment inspiration and of articulating the most important Enlightenment techniques of public opinion, equality, public cause, legislature and judiciary, revolution, legislations, and the folks of their American context. the gathering is well timed given modern debates among republicans and liberals approximately constitutional interpretation that are addressed all through.

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43 grounds for our views and actions are not exposed for examination? We will be engaged more in trading conclusions—or at best “mid-level” and largely conclusory premises—than in examining our deepest convictions and commitments. Further, while our generic strategy may help us to “just get along” in the short run, it is unlikely to lead to any deep rapport or mutual understanding. So long as we stick to this strategy, we will not really get to know and understand each other. Worse than that, our strategy is likely to breed mutual suspicion.

Modern partisans of Enlightenment depend on these concepts to do a great deal of work in justifying more specific decisions involving distributive justice or rights. 79 Meanwhile the actual argumentative work and the particular conclusions in specific controversies demand more specific and substantive—and contested—premises. So how does a theorist—or a court—get from a very general and perhaps purely formal premise to a specific substantive conclusion without offending the consensus criterion that modern reason uses as a working principle?

62 In addition, instrumental rationality, though it may provide valuable clarification of alternatives, stands mostly mute before controversies primarily reflecting deep-seated differences in values or moral commitments—such as abortion or affirmative action. Perhaps most fundamentally, means-end reasoning is largely powerless to provide justifications for the most fundamental commitments of the American constitutional order, such as the “truths” of equality and natural rights asserted in the Declaration of Independence.

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