Towards a Comprehensive Republican Theory of Federalism
Federalism has long been studied only within empirical fields such as political science, economics and law. Political philosophers’ interest in federalism is relatively new. Arguably, the most important contribution in the field is that of Ferran Requejo. The ethical theory of ‘value pluralism’ that is at the core of his theory of ‘plural federalism’ is an attempt to reform political liberalism ‘from within’. The aim is to offer a normative grounding for a liberal theory of federalism. In this paper, I suggest that it is both desirable and feasible to opt for an alternative strategy in order to design a normative theory of federalism. This novel strategy consists of considering political liberalism as only one approach or one family of theories – that has yet to produce a complete theory of federalism – and turning instead to the neo-republican approach. I point out two features of Requejo’s freedom oriented view, namely identity and (berlinian) negative liberty, to show how a neo-republican approach can accommodate and move beyond these key liberal claims. I argue that the ideal of liberty as non-domination that is at the core of neo-republican theories is a legitimate candidate to provide a solid normative basis for a normative theory of federalism.