Cyc Am Pol Thght – Synopsis Chapter 12-24 (all outlines separate)

February 9, 2018

Lecture Fourteen
A Philosophical Constitution—Interpretation

The framers are dead, but The Federalist Papers and the Constitution live on to govern America. Part of governance includes the practical, day-to-day policy adjustments seemingly demanded by the times. In the American context, though, this pragmatism frequently is justified by reference to the philosophical core of the founding document and the Papers that explained it.

To appeal to the founding documents, we must first answer the question: What do they mean? A simple answer is “they mean what they say.” However, words—especially those quilled centuries ago—admit of many and potentially different interpretations. Of these, three merit special consideration: pluralist, elitist, and republican. Contemplation of these is no dry academic enterprise because, in reflection on them, one uncovers the riddles of the constitutional code. These riddles, and the answers we provide for them, condition the meaning we ascribe to the document that “invented” America and the politics and thought that flow from it.