Patriotism or Integrity? Constitutional Community in Divided Societies

Alex Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Some commentators worry that a plurinational constitutional order can only ever be an inherently unstable modus vivendi. They fear that the accommodation of sub-state nationalism will tend to undermine the viability of constitutional democracies. This article enlists Ronald Dworkin’s theory of ‘law as integrity’ to show how these concerns might be assuaged. My central claim is that the expressive value of integrity can drive a divided society in the direction of an eventual community of principle, even in the absence of a common political identity. I argue that this model of political community is a more plausible prescription for divided societies than the theory that competing nationalisms might be superseded by constitutional patriotism. I go on to explain, however, that integrity has a better chance of realizing this potential if the generally judge-centric focus of Dworkin’s theory is expanded to make greater room for non-judicial interpretative responsibility. Occasional references are made to the example of Northern Ireland to illustrate my points.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-526
Number of pages24
JournalOxford Journal of Legal Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011


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