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2007 | 10 | 9-29

Article title

The axiological basis of a constitution


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The axiology embedded in a constitution refers to a political community in its most and its developed, modern form, which we refer to as a constitutional state. The basis of such a state institutional and legal structure, recorded in the fundamental law, is comprised of fundamental values that gradually filter into the consciousness and are subsequently universally accepted during a long-lasting, historical process which has been completed in a given cultural milieu. In order to indicate the values on which a constitutional state is founded and which it embodies, it is necessary to reach back to the very beginnings of not only a modern state before the epoch of a constitution, but also to those of the state as such. An axiological appraisal of a state must be based on the specific content of the ethical order at its foundations. There is a specific 'axiology' of exerting power as such, the basic yardstick for which is effectiveness. When we aim to appraise or draft a specific constitution, this pragmatic perspective must be taken into account. A well-organised system of the institutions of the state's authority is, primarily, one which operates effectively. Axiologically, the most important part of a constitution, the one where the ethical foundations of the state are spelled out 'expressis verbis', is the catalogue of basic rights. At present, the main problem is the inflation of these rights, not only by rendering them too detailed, but also by placing political stipulations, social privileges or expectations regarded as generally right among them. (the II chapter of the Constitution now in force in Poland makes an instructive illustration of such an approach.) All these superfluous appendages not only litter the constitution, but also contribute to the devaluation of real fundamental rights as their meaning, essential to the maintenance of an interpersonal order, is diluted in the flood of quasi rights which have been added on.


  • Z. Stawrowski, Instytut StudiĆ³w Politycznych PAN, ul. Polna 18/20, 00-625 Warszawa, Poland


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