Constitutional and International Law Papers

Welcome to our site. This is a collaborative project in the philosophy of law. Our aim is to examine some of the foundational questions about constitutional law and international law. Our hope is that a comparison between the two will enable us to see some of the problems in both modern constitutions and the systems of both private and public international law. One of the great accomplishments of the modern period has a been a dramatic improvement in the rule of the law. More and more, in various states with differing cultures and histories, the idea of the rule of law has come to govern the actual practice of institutions within the state. At the same time, the idea of the rule of law serves as an ideal that regulates the evolution of law within those states. In many ways, the contemporary system of international law that governs the relations between states faces a number of problems. By drawing a comparison between constitutional law and international law we propose to examine some of the weaknesses of international law and to make suggestions for dealing with the problems we face in strengthening the rule of law at the international level.

Our proposal is to write a book that is modelled on the Federalist Papers. Famously, this set of papers examine the philosophical reasons for adopting a federal constitution that was designed with the features that we now, to some degree, take for granted in the United States of America. The papers identified specific problems that the American people faced immediately after the Revolutionary War. By the end of the 1780's, representatives from a number of states had come to the conclusion that the original Articles of Confederation was insufficient to regulate the relations between the states. For example, it did not provide a sufficient basis for forming a national union, it did not protect against the unwarranted influence of factions in the operation of government, it did not provide a sufficient basis for the protection of the rights of individuals, minorities and the people as as whole and it did not provide a means for taxation to raise revenue or for providing for a national defense.

The book will have two parts. The first part will examine proposals for making both minor and major revisions to the Constitution of the United States. Much has changed in the time between the framing of the Constitution and the the present day. Many amendments have been made--after ratification with the addition of the bill of rights, after the civil war with the provisions for equality under law, and during the early part of the 20th century with the granting of the right to vote for women. In recent decades, however, fewer amendments have been suggested. We intend to examine the major problems that the framers of the constitution faced and to reflect on the way in which the design of the constitution was intended to deal with these problems. Next, we will ask whether or not the problems we face at the beginning of the 21st century are different from those faced by the framers of the constitution. After sorting through some of these problems, we will consider suggestions for improving the constitutional framework of our country.

Courses in the philosophy of law:

Wikibooks on Constitutional and International Law: