European perspectives on constitutional pluralism(S): An ontological roadmap

Dimitri Van Den Meerssche*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Constitutional pluralism has become a pivotal heuristic in framing and evaluating the interaction between different modes of legal authority within and beyond the state. This paper explores the legal ontologies and normative aspirations from which these transnational constitutional imaginaries emerge. An inquiry into the constitutional paradigms of MacCormick, Maduro and Kumm reveals three distinct ontologies: law, respectively, as (i) an institutional; (ii) a relational; and (iii) a meta-normative phenomenon. This ontological perspective elucidates a shift in transnational constitutional discourse: from its focus on pluralism and heterarchy (the ‘pluralization of constitutionalism’), the paradigm gave rise to a rationalist renaissance of monism under metaconstitutional principles (the ‘constitutionalization of pluralism’). These different templates translate the jurisprudential dichotomy between positivism and normative legal theory to a transnational language, and articulate opposing visions of global governance. The transnational constitutional imaginary, I conclude, fails to accommodate visions of law as a space for democratic contestation or heterodox politics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages31
JournalTransnational Legal Theory
Issue number1
Early online date5 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • constitutional pluralism
  • democracy
  • Gg
  • transnational law


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