The Selfless Constitution: Experimentalism and Flourishing as Foundations of South Africa's Basic Law

The Selfless Constitution: Experimentalism and Flourishing as Foundations of South Africa's Basic Law

by Stu Woolman
     
 

Stu Woolman - The Selfless Constitution: Experimentalism and Flourishing as Foundations of South Africa’s Basic Law

Do you possess ‘freedom’ — the will to do as you like — as an individual, as a participant in social affairs or as a citizen in the political realm? Well, no. Not as most of us understand a term loaded

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Stu Woolman - The Selfless Constitution: Experimentalism and Flourishing as Foundations of South Africa’s Basic Law

Do you possess ‘freedom’ — the will to do as you like — as an individual, as a participant in social affairs or as a citizen in the political realm? Well, no. Not as most of us understand a term loaded down with metaphysical baggage. Don’t worry. You’ve got something better: a brain capable of carrying out the most complex analytical; membership in innumerable communities that provide you with huge stores of knowledge; and a politico-constitutional order that ought to provide the material goods and immaterial conditions that will enable you to pursue a life worth valuing. As many recent studies of consciousness reveal, our neurological systems are complex feedback mechanisms designed to create myriad opportunities for trial and error and the production of new stores of knowledge. Individuals — comprised of radically heterogeneous, naturally and socially determined selves — are always experimenting, attempting to divine through reflection and action, what works best: even when ‘best’ means fully embracing who we already are. A constitutional democracy, made up of millions of radically heterogeneous, densely populated individuals and a myriad of equally complex social formations, should regularly run experiments that attempt to eliminate our biases, and to deliver heuristics that nudge us away from negative defaults toward more optimal ends. Because South Africa’s Constitution states only some of the norms that govern our lives, it remains for citizens, representatives and judges to create doctrines and institutions that serve its capaciously framed ends best. After canvassing the most recent literature in neuroscience, empirical philosophy, behavioural psychology, social capital theory, development economics, the capabilities approach and emergent experimental governance, The Selfless Constitution suggests that the promotion of experiments in living, married to a commitment to the expansion of individual capabilities, is likely to produce more optimal ways of being that can be replicated, and further enhanced, by other members of our polity. The book spins out its novel thesis against the concrete backdrop of political arrangements and judicial doctrines that have emerged during the first 18 years of South Africa’s truly vibrant constitutional democracy. Its trenchant analysis of South African institutions and case law shows us how far we have come and how far we still have to go.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781485100072
Publisher:
Juta & Company Ltd
Publication date:
07/01/2013
Pages:
650
Product dimensions:
6.69(w) x 9.61(h) x 1.31(d)

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