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Federalism: A Normative Theory and its Practical Relevance [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Kyle Scott

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31. März 2011
In this book, Kyle Scott develops a theory-based definition of federalism. Using case studies from North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, Scott demonstrates how strengthening the principle of federalism can enhance democratic responsiveness, revitalize civil society, and allow for a polarized electorate and elite to find common ground. The book aims to provide a normative theory of federalism to show that it is the political structure with the greatest promise of promoting both public and private good without sacrificing either. Drawing on thinkers such as Montesquieu, Plato, Aristotle, and Althusius, as well as on real world examples, Federalism offers a unique approach and contribution to the study of federalism that will interest students in government and intergovernmental relations, federalism, political theory, American politics, and comparative politics.


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Federalism: A Normative Theory and Its Practical Relevance is an innovative attempt to defend federalism as a desirable institutional form for contemporary democracies by means of a tightly argued, coherent normative theory, which is applied to case studies of conflict resolution around the world. Welding a communitarian theory of human teleology to commonly accepted empirical generalizations about democratic politics, author Kyle Scott makes a strong case that the decentralized governance characteristic of federalism can allow politics to operate at a "human scale" while facilitating constructive deliberation. Scott sees the polity as an organic whole, in sharp contrast to most contemporary liberals and libertarians. Unlike utilitarians, he does not defend federalism principally on its economic advantages. Instead, Scott argues that human flourishing is possible only when citizens participate actively in the governance of a community of shared customs and intimate familiarity, and that proper skepticism of the efficacy of uniform schemes for human improvement should lead us to appreciate the diverse experimentation characteristic of robust autonomy for a large number of political jurisdictions. The implications of these assumptions are truly radical, for the demanding kind of self-government that Scott - like Althusius, Aristotle, and Tocqueville - endorses requires very small jurisdictions and a very high degree of decentralization. Scott also argues in favor of a trinity of powers that local jurisdictions may use in extremis: nullification, veto, and secession. The reasoning is that these powers require the central government to deliberate with local governments on the most appropriate means to shared ends. Moreover, small scale allows deliberation to happen within local governments among citizens, who directly participate in making policy decisions.The federalism Scott defends is thus an ideal type to which no actual federal system, even the Swiss, currently con

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Kyle Scott is Assistant Professor of Political Science and Public Administration at the University of North Florida where he teaches political thought and action as well as democratic theory. He is the author of numerous journal articles and a book, Dismantling American Common Law (Lexington Books, 2008). Scott is also affiliated with the Abbeville Institute and is a board member of the North Carolina Historical Project.

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