The Constitution of Good Societies

Paper or softback
Karol Soltan, Stephen L. Elkin
Published 05 Nov 2004
List Price £25.95



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.


Introduction: Imagination, Political Competence, and Institutions / Karol Edward Soltan

Part I Human Capabilities and Institutional Design

1. Covenants, Collective Action, and Common-Pool Resources / Elinor Ostrom

2. Constitutional Choice, Rational Ignorance, and the Limits of

3. Reason / Viktor J. Vanberg and James M. Buchanan

4. From Irrationality to Autonomy: Two Sciences of Institutional Design / John S. Dryzek

5. Institution Building and Human Nature / Karol Edward Soltan

Part II Conceptions of the Good Society

6. How to Make a Good Society / Charles W. Anderson

7. The Constitution of a Good Society: The Case of the Commercial Republic / Stephen L. Elkin

8. Speculative Theory and Regime Alternatives: Beyond Socialism and Capitalism / Gar Alperovitz

9. The Political Institutions of the Good Society / Philip Green

Conclusion: Judging the Good Society / Stephen L. Elkin