A Normatively Inflected, Sociologically Aware Account of the Rule of Law
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The rule of law is an ‘essentially contested’ concept, everyone now seems to agree.1 But in what sense might it also be an ‘ethically thick’ one,2 and what does Martin Krygier’s work teach us about the significance of this alternative way of seeing things?
In his influential adaptation of W. B. Gallie’s framework, Jeremy Waldron argued that, at the heart of the centuries-old dispute over the rule of law, was ‘the practicability of law being in charge in a society’. What was in contention was not so much rival accounts of a ‘complex exemplar’ of this ideal but rival ‘proposals’ for how the complex (and possibly intractable) problem of making law rule in society is to be resolved. That being so, the rule of law was best understood as a ‘solution-’ rather than an ‘achievement-concept’.3
In adapting Gallie’s framework in this way, Waldron situated his account of the rule of law firmly in the tradition of highly abstract, empirically disentangled Anglo-American political philosophy. As in...
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