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Making a 21st Century Constitution

Playing Fair in Modern Democracies

Frank Vibert

Democratic constitutions are increasingly unfit for purpose with governments facing increased pressures from populists and distrust from citizens. The only way to truly solve these problems is through reform. Within this important book, Frank Vibert sets out the key challenges to reform, the ways in which constitutions should be revitalised and provides the standards against which reform should be measured.
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Chapter 8: The material motive: problem management

Frank Vibert


This chapter discusses how constitutions can offer assurances against material uncertainties through the systems capability of their structures to manage problems as they arise. It discusses how our use of different systems of social coordination is linked to different forms of behavioral rationality in the way we approach problem management. It makes an important distinction between ‘content’ rationality based on analytic, methodical and causal thinking and ‘source’-based rationality where our reasoning reflects the importance to us of our associates and affiliates. It links content-based rationality to the world of experts and the law. Politics is linked to associative rationality. The distinction involves what are known as ‘dual processing’ theories of rationality. The chapter discusses the relationship with theories of unified rationality underlying concepts of discourse or deliberative democracy.

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