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The Constitution of Risk
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  • Cited by 2
  • Cited by
    This book has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Marquez, Xavier 2016. An Epistemic Argument for Conservatism. Res Publica, Vol. 22, Issue. 4, p. 405.

    Nou, Jennifer 2014. Sub-Regulating Elections. The Supreme Court Review, Vol. 2013, Issue. 1, p. 135.


Book description

The Constitution of Risk is the first book to combine constitutional theory with the theory of risk regulation. It argues that constitutional rulemaking is best understood as a means of managing political risks. Constitutional law structures and regulates the risks that arise in and from political life, such as an executive coup or military putsch, political abuse of ideological or ethnic minorities, or corrupt self-dealing by officials. The book claims that the best way to manage political risks is an approach it calls 'optimizing constitutionalism' - in contrast to the worst-case thinking that underpins 'precautionary constitutionalism', a mainstay of liberal constitutional theory. Drawing on a broad range of disciplines such as decision theory, game theory, welfare economics, political science and psychology, this book advocates constitutional rulemaking undertaken in a spirit of welfare maximization, and offers a corrective to the pervasive and frequently irrational distrust of official power that is so prominent in American constitutional history and discourse.


‘With characteristic lucidity and vigor, and by compelling examples, Adrian Vermeule launches a devastating attack on abstract possibilistic reasoning in the law and in politics. He shows how risk-management itself may create risks by focusing on worst-case scenarios or by relying on stereotypical preconceptions, and offers a robust alternative that enjoins us to weigh the risks of inaction as well as those of action.’

Jon Elster - Columbia University, New York

‘Another tour de force from Adrian Vermuele. The Constitution of Risk is a major addition to an already rich body of work. The thesis is characteristically bold. Constitutions should be judged according to how successfully they manage political risks. The best strategy is not the risk-averse approach of classic Madisonian constitutional theory but a more fluid theory of ‘optimizing constitutionalism’ infused with Hamiltonian spirit. Written with clarity and economy of style, this book cements Professor Vermeule’s reputation as one of the most distinctive and important voices in contemporary constitutional theory.’

Thomas Poole - London School of Economics and Political Science

'… Vermeule's book makes a strong contribution to constitutional debate … it can usefully be applied to a range of constitutional dilemmas in Ireland and elsewhere. In particular, his insights might be applied to Irish debates concerning the appropriate role and extent of judicial review over administrative access, and how individual rights are weighted against competing goals.'

Eoin Daly Source: The Irish Jurist

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