< Back to previous page


Federalism, Nationality and Justice: A Politico-Philosophical Study of the Value of Federalism in the Present Political Constellation.

Federalism divides powers between a central government and two or more subunits, such that each level has sovereign authority over certain issues. After a long period during which federalism was uniquely researched within empirical fields of study like law or political science, in the past few years political philosophers have started to reflect on federal arrangements, although a full-fledged normative political theory of federalism has not yet been worked out. It is the objective of the proposed project to develop such a theory. The recent interest in the policito-philosophical dimensions of federalism has coincided with the emergence of a theoretical interest in the accommodation of nations within larger political units, more specifically in (i) multinational states like Belgium, Canada or Spain, and (ii) transnational political communities such as the EU. In particular, federalism in such constellations is typically understood and advocated as a political mechanism to cope with the existence of multiple nations within one political community. Both debates ("domestic multinational" and "transnational" federalism) overlap extensively and tackle similar issues. The objective of the proposed research project is to develop a comprehensive political theory of federalism which incorporates both debates. This will be done in two steps. The first is to chart the history of the idea of federalism in political philosophy, and to analyze contemporary views on federalism against the background of the evolution of this idea. The second step will be to develop a normative theory of federalism, by analyzin whether federalism is compatible with the normative presuppositions of democracy and justice, and by answering the question of the desirability of federal political regimes, especially in virtue of federalism's ability to realize ethnocultural and global justice for the current post-national world order.
Date:1 Oct 2010  →  31 Dec 2015
Keywords:global justice, secession, justice, Federalism, nationalism, global democracy