Although the origins of potentia can be traced to the exercise of the king's prerogatives, its significance in the modern era has been altered out of all recognition. This came about because of a third revolution to have shaped public law: the disciplinary revolution which flowed from the Protestant Reformation. This establishes as the main objective of public law that of establishing a well-ordered commonwealth. The disciplinary revolution supplements the bourgeois revolutionary concern for the structure of government with a concern over its infrastructure and a consequential shift in orientation takes place: from input legitimacy (focusing on right ordering) towards output legitimacy (measured by effectiveness in service provision) — that is, a shift from potestas towards potentia. This chapter examines the origins and nature of the disciplinary revolution and considers its impact on the workings of modern government.
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