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Our Founding Feelings: Emotion, Commitment, and Imagination in Constitutional Culture


Doni N. Gewirtzman


New York Law School


University of Richmond Law Review, Vol. 43, p. 623, 2009
NYLS Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09/10 #25

Abstract:     
Traditionally, scholars and judges have treated emotion as a destructive force within constitutional culture. This Article uses recent developments in social psychology, neurobiology, and political psychology to challenge this dominant account and reposition emotion as central to our collective constitutional endeavor. It argues that emotion is critical to commitment and imagination, two features of human behavior that are essential to constitutional legitimacy and innovation. Further, emotions shape our perceptions and preferences about constitutional values through their impact on attitude development and moral decision-making. Finally, our increased understanding of emotion's impact on human behavior has the potential to alter the way we think about a range of ongoing debates in constitutional theory, including the merits of judicial supremacy, the relationship between the Court and public opinion, the standards for constitutional amendment, and the design of democratic institutions.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 62

Keywords: emotion, commitment, imagination, constitutional law, constitutional culture, constitutional theory

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Date posted: March 4, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Gewirtzman, Doni N., Our Founding Feelings: Emotion, Commitment, and Imagination in Constitutional Culture. University of Richmond Law Review, Vol. 43, p. 623, 2009; NYLS Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09/10 #25. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1353337

Contact Information

Doni N. Gewirtzman (Contact Author)
New York Law School ( email )
185 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
United States
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