Principles of Constitutional
- Protect rights with accessible remedies.
- Enable joint action, especially defense.
- Divide power among branches, levels.
- Representation & deliberation.
- Pay or avoid debts. No fiat currency.
- Adjudicate disputes, avoid conflict, separation.
- Allow peaceful expansion and secession.
- Supersedes derivative statutes, amendable.
- Endure indefinitely, for benefit of posterity.
Composing a written constitution of government, or an amendment to
involves skills similar to those required for any kind of
or for legal briefs, contracts, and notices, but with some
considerations peculiar to supreme laws that supersede ordinary
legislation or official acts that may be inconsistent with them.
- Put it in writing, as brief and simple as possible, but no
briefer or simpler.
- Omit anything that is not enforceable as law.
- Specify who, what, how, when, where, why, whither, to or for
- Enter provisions that operate together to solve a problem,
providing the necessary structure, procedures, rights, powers,
duties, covering all conceivable contingencies, that require no
resources that are not always available or obtainable.
- Anticipate all the ways any language might be twisted by
lawyers trying to find ways to evade the meaning and intent of
- Don't try to micromanage complex social systems. Make sure
everything orchestrates into a harmonious system, but be aware
ways every enactment is an intervention in a chaotic system
sensitive to perturbations, and that can only work if it sets up
self-organized islands of stability in a sea of chaos, that are
undesignable except by trial and error.
- Allow some discretion but not too much, so actions
Metagaming for Constitutional
In game theory a metagame
is a game about another game, generally with the objective of
finding the best rules or design for that other game. For games like
it is clear that the games did not begin with all the rules and
design they has today, but as simpler games, the rules and design
for which evolved over the centuries. What the players were doing
over the centuries was playing a metagame of finding improvements in
the game rules and designs to make play more satisfactory.
Metagaming is everywhere in the world of strategic decision-making,
in society, economics, politics, and engineering. In particular it
is involved in the evolving designs of constitutions of government
and legal institutions. Normative politics is largely a matter of
We can carry the process to another level, playing a metagame in
which the objective are better rules and designs of the metagame of
finding better designs for political constitutions, which are
themselves metagames for designing laws and legal institutions.
Metagames can even loop back and apply to higher level metagames in
a system of them. That is what provisions for amendments in
political constitutions do.
Like any games, metagames can be played well or badly, but they can
also be analyzed scientifically, or even solved mathematically,
perhaps with the help of computer simulation models. Just as
chess-playing programs can now regularly beat human opponents, so we
can anticipate a day when constitution-writing programs may generate
better constitutions than conventions of human beings can design.
Constitution-writing software may not be within reach today, but
with a concerted, well-funded effort, we can expect to achieve such
software in the not too distant future that will outperform human
We can speculate about what such software is likely to yield. During
the course of centuries of constitutional design by humans, and the
testing of those designs in real-world conditions, certain patterns
can be discerned that do not seem to be subject to the vagaries of
history or culture. As in the design of buildings, there is some
room for taste or even whimsy, but ultimately there do seem to be
recurrent and stable principles of design that we might expect to
emerge from the evolution and adaptation of such designs for not
only human beings of every culture, but even perhaps for other
species of similarly capable and semi-autonomous social beings,
anywhere in the Universe. The long-held dream of a science of
politics may be within reach with the automation of constitutional
design. This is one of the results that can be expected from the
science of pynthantics.
The most promising approach to developing constitution-writer
software is likely to use some form of genetic
algorithms, that split and recombine specification components,
which are not necessarily words in a natural language, and then
tests each combination with simulated societies in which members use
it to try to optimize their purposes, and protect their rights. Part
of any such simulation is likely to include "clever lawyers" who try
to use arguments to get decisions that deviate from "original
understanding". An objective of the software would be to design
components that are highly resistant to such usurptive efforts,
without producing an excessively large document that specifies too
many details. If the product is not written in a natural language,
then there would need to be a translator function that would do
that, so that it could be used by human beings.
So the programmer's ideological preferences do not necessarily
affect the design, at least not in a predictable way. It is not
likely to be practical or safe to test designs using real societies,
so we have to find ways to simulate societies and their members, in
which the abstract actors behave enough like human beings to test
the design in the way a human society would, but much faster,
allowing the selection of better designs to proceed to completion in
a reasonable amount of time and at an affordable cost.
One could go on to levels of detail that get into specific
constitutional provisions, but this will suffice for now.