The constitution of nondomination

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Introduction I argue in this essay that procedural constitutional guarantees of market freedoms best protect individuals from domination. One corollary of my argument is that political theorists who attach paramount importance to freedom as nondomination should embrace market freedoms no matter what other divergent commitments they may have. In particular, Philip Pettit's claim that various forms of state interference with private markets are needed to forestall domination will prove to be unwarranted.1 Another corollary of my argument is that market freedoms are best protected by procedural rules for political decision-making, as opposed to constitutional guarantees of private property and other substantive rules. A moral presumption against interference has been more or less explicitly advocated by the political tradition known as “classical liberalism” or (sometimes to denote the versions least sympathetic to the state) “libertarianism.” On this tradition, a legal system ought to protect spheres of mutual noninterference. To be sure, classical liberals allowed for conditions under which I am morally authorized, or even required, to interfere with someone's actions—say, to prevent her from violating my, or someone else's, rights. But classical liberals typically saw such cases of legitimate interference as the price to be paid for a legal system that minimized the total amount of interference.2 In contrast, the political tradition known as “republicanism” is not hostile to interference as such but rather to arbitrary interference. Republican theorists embrace an ideal of freedom as nondomination, according to which persons ought not to be subject to the arbitrary will of others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationWhat Should Constitutions Do?
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9781139151528
ISBN (Print)9780521175531
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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