Legality and Legitimacy: The Legal and Political Philosophy of Popular Sovereignty in the New Latin American Constitutions

Wednesday 9 February 2011 by David Restrepo Amariles

A vigorous constitutional movement has characterized the last two decades of Latin American politics. Claiming to recover popular sovereignty through the establishment of new constitutions the reformers, led by the Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, aim at moving beyond the heritage of liberal modernity and establishing new states capable of abolishing historical oppressions and accomplishing emancipation. I inquire into the philosophical underpinnings of this idea, and particularly, into the concepts of legality and legitimacy in which this project is built upon. This thriving work proposes an interdisciplinary approach bringing together the history of philosophical ideas and a contextualized political, legal and sociological analysis of contemporary politics in Latin America. I conclude that the underlying philosophy and institutional setting of the new Latin American constitutions, and particularly those issued of the Bolivarian Revolution, do not provide an alternative to the liberal modern state, but they establish an new ideological framework aiming to recover the lost faith in the modern ideals.

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