Damiano Canale

Kant and the Problem of Limitation. Philosophical Profiles and Constitutional Implications

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The concept of limitation is central to philosophical debate, and also plays an important role in moral and legal language. Article 1 of the Italian constitution, for example, provides that «Sovereignty belongs to the people and is exercised by the people in the forms and within the limits of the constitution». One might ask what relationship the term ‘limits’ designates between the constitution and the exercise of sovereignty, and how these limits can be drawn. It is easy to see that the answer to these questions have important political and institutional implications and condition the way we conceive of a democratic-constitutional legal system. This article reconstructs Kant’s conception of limitation from the perspective of contemporary philosophy of language and mind. In particular, the article shows that the category of limitation, and the type of judgements it relies on (infinite judgements), has semantic, pragmatic and cognitive relevance in Kantian philosophy, and also identifies how philosophical knowledge proceeds. Furthermore, Kant’s conception of limitation is used in the article to evaluate the way in which constitutional review is conceived by the two constitutional doctrines that contend the field in current legal debate: the doctrine of the “constitution by rulesµ and that of the “constitution by principlesµ. In the light of Kant’s understanding of limitation, nether of them is convincing and a novel understanding of constitutional review is needed


  • Kant
  • Kantian Logic
  • Judgment
  • Philosophy of Language
  • Constitutional Law
  • Judicial Review


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