The One and the Many: A Critical Reflection on the Foundations of Hans Kelsen’s Democratic Theory

Pedro T. Magalhães

Abstract

This paper offers a critical examination of the foundations of Hans Kelsen’s democratic theory in neo-Kantian epistemology. It argues that, while such an epistemological framework provides coherence to his intellectual endeavor by reconciling his monistic legal theory with a pluralist democratic theory, it weakens the theoretical fertility and analytic edge of his political thought. Furthermore, I also claim that the Kelsenian epistemological turn, in its understanding of both law and politics, remains very much entangled in the dilemmas and modes of thought of a philosophical tradition that Kelsen himself believed to have entirely surpassed. His nevertheless insightful analysis of modern democratic institutions would therefore benefit from being read through different philosophical spectacles.

Schlagworte

Monism, Pluralism, Relativism, Indeterminacy, Democracy, Epistemology

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