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The foundations of the rule of law

Zanghellini, A. (2017) The foundations of the rule of law. Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities, 28 (2). pp. 213-240. ISSN 1041-6374

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Formal conceptions of the rule of law are popular among contemporary legal philosophers. Nonetheless, the coherence of accounts of the rule of law committed to these conceptions is sometimes fractured by elements harkening back to substantive conceptions of the rule of law. I suggest that this may be because at its origins the ideal of the rule of law was substantive through and through. I also argue that those origins are older than is generally supposed. Most authors tend to trace the ideas of the rule of law and natural law back to classical Greece, but I show that they are already recognisable and intertwined as far back as Homer. Because the founding moment of the tradition of western intellectual reflection on the rule of law placed concerns about substantive justice at the centre of the rule of law ideal, it may be hard for this ideal to entirely shrug off its substantive content. It may be undesirable, too, given the rhetorical power of appeals to the rule of law. The rule of law means something quite radical in Homer; this meaning may provide a source of normative inspiration for contemporary reflections about the rule of law.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Law
ID Code:54870
Publisher:Yale Law School


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