Chapter 3: Toward a positive theory of federalism and political decentralization
The meaning of the words ‘positive theory’ in the title of this chapter is not self-evident. A part, but only a part, of the meaning is provided by John Neville Keynes’s (1890: 34) well-known and widely accepted distinction between positive and normative science with the first defined ‘as a body of systematized knowledge concerning what is’ – or in the words of Paul Anthony Samuelson (1983: 7) concerning ‘some part of the world of reality . . . .’ In the present chapter ‘what is’ or ‘some part of the world of reality’ concerns federalism and political decentralization generally, a most important genus among the latter being decentralized unitary states. The title also makes use of the word ‘toward’ to emphasize that the approach adumbrated in the chapter is far from full or complete. Much more research will be required before one can do away with such words. Federalism and political decentralization are dimensions of the organization of governmental systems. Four among those that may be called the structural dimensions of these systems are: (a) the number of jurisdictional tiers or levels; (b) the number of units – such as provinces and municipalities – at all tiers below the central (or national) level; (c) the size and size-distribution of units at each level (again, except at the centre); and (d) the constitutional–legal status of units at each tier.
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