7 Ratio Juris 1 (1994)

handle is hein.journals/raju7 and id is 1 raw text is: 


Ratio Juris. Vol. 7 No. 1 March 1994 (1-13)


Human Rights and Popular

Sovereignty: The Liberal and

Republican Versions*


JURGEN HABERMAS


Abstract. Popular sovereignty and human rights are the modern pillars of legal
legitimacy and political power. Liberal and republican thought, however, tend to
interpret the two notions from different perspectives: either as moral principles,
emphasizing the self-legislation and autonomy of individuals, or as ethical values,
stressing the self-realization of the political community. Adhering to his theory
of communicative action, the author brings the two principles together in a non-
competitive relation. Here the connection between popular sovereignty and human
rights is given by the procedures of a discursive process of opinion- and will-
formation. Theoretically, the institutionalization of this process through law leads to
a normative model of contemporary democracy, which is based on the substance of
human rights as a formal condition for deliberative politics.**

The two ideas of popular sovereignty and human rights have shaped the
normative self-understanding of constitutional states up to the present day.
With the first idea we postulate that members of a democratic community
are governed by themselves collectively; with the second, that they are
governed by law and not by men. This is no less true for the United States
than for any modern constitutional regime. Let me start with this quote from
Frank Michelman:

I take American constitutionalism -as manifest in academic constitutional theory,
in the professional praxis of lawyers and judges, and in the ordinary political self-
understanding of Americans at large-to rest on two premises regarding political
freedom: first, that the American people are politically free insomuch as they are
governed by themselves collectively, and, second, that the American people are
politically free insomuch as they are governed by law and not by men. I take it that no
* This is the text of a lecture given at the Philosophy Department of North-Western-University,
Evanston held on September 23, 1992.
** Abstract by Francesco Belvisi.
 Basil Blackwell Ltd. 1994, 108 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 IJF, UK and 238 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA.

What Is HeinOnline?

HeinOnline is a subscription-based resource containing nearly 2,700 academic and legal journals from inception; complete coverage of government documents such as U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Reports, and much more. Documents are image-based, fully searchable PDFs with the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database. For more information, request a quote or trial for your organization below.



Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline with pricing starting as low as $29.95

Access to this content requires a subscription. Please visit the following page to request a quote or trial:

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?