Value Pluralism, Constitutionalism, and Democracy: Waldron and Berlin in Debate

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Jeremy Waldron claims that Isaiah Berlin wrongly neglects, and is hostile to, constitutional and democratic institutions. I argue that although Berlin offers no extended discussion of constitutionalism or democracy, he is not hostile to them. Moreover, the logic of Berlin's value pluralism is strongly supportive of these ideas - for example, it fits well with constitutionalist notions such as the separation of powers and checks and balances. On the other hand, Waldron's rejection of judicial review on the ground of democracy is questionable in these same pluralist terms. Here I argue that Berlinian pluralism supports democracy as long as this is inclusive in its outcomes. But contemporary democracy cannot be relied upon to be sufficiently inclusive, in part because of the effects of the war on terror and the rise of populism. Under these conditions it is unwise for pluralists to dispense with judicial review.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-127
Number of pages27
JournalReview of Politics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2019


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