We are excited to announce that Tian Wei will be hosted by the Programme for the Foundations of Law & Constitutional Government for the academic year 2017-18. Here he outlines his proposed research project:
My project explores a functional account and justification of the principle of separation of powers, which argues that although this doctrine aims at both moderation and rationalisation of the exercise of state power, in modern times its core lies in efficiency and articulated governance rather than, as is conventionally assumed, solely in the maintenance of liberty. Instead of weakening the state, the separation of powers serves to guarantee that the state makes the best possible decision. This functional understanding, though first developed in German constitutional scholarship in the 1970s under the title of Funktionsordnung and funktionsgerechte Organstruktur, is not a German peculiarity. As well as in Germany, we can also find similar accounts in British and American constitutional theory - some advocated by Oxford scholars - such as the distinction between functionalist and formalist approaches, or the pure and partial versions of separation of powers. The question, whether this similarity is just a coincidence among different constitutional orders or it reveals some kind of common tendency in the modern interpretation of the separation of powers, is intriguing. I hope that my visit to Oxford will enable me to provide this question with a tenable answer.