Subsidiarity: More than a principle of decentralization-A view from local government

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Publius, 2017, 47 (4), pp. 522 - 545
Issue Date:
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© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of CSF Associates: Publius, Inc. A common interpretation of the principle of subsidiarity in the federalism literature is that decentralized government, which is closer to the people, is better able to respond to the preferences of its citizens. However, when the principle is denuded of its moral foundations in this fashion it not only fails to provide the grounding for achieving human dignity and the common good, but may also become the harbinger of fiscal crises and social dysfunction. We provide a more comprehensive account of the principle of subsidiarity and contrast this with various conceptions prominently presented in the federalism literature.We then explore how this more comprehensive view of subsidiarity would look in practice. In short, we argue that mere decentralization of government fails to capture the ontology and desirable outcomes of the principle of subsidiarity.
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