Why the ‘Rule of Law’

  • Nadia E. Nedzel
  • Nicholas Capaldi
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Classical Liberalism book series (PASTCL)


The ‘rule of law’ arose in England both because of its cultural heritage of individual liberty and its non-rationalist intellectual heritage. An understanding of and appreciation for this ‘rule of law’ has been limited to legal theorists like Hayek and Oakeshott (and before them Dicey, Leoni, and Fuller) because they opposed the rationalism and scientism that became intellectual orthodoxy since the nineteenth century. No significant place for the rule of law can any longer be found within the mainstream of contemporary legal thought. Hayek and Oakeshott find such a place and articulate a morally significant picture of it. The rule of law enables individuals who have their own ends and commitments to live in peace and voluntary cooperation with their fellows.


  1. Becker, C.L. ([1932] 1962) The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth Century Philosophers. New York: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Berlin, I. (2013) Against the Current. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Capaldi, N. (1998) “The Enlightenment Project in Twentieth-Century Philosophy.” In John C. McCarthy (ed.), Modern Enlightenment and the Rule of Reason. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 257–282.Google Scholar
  4. Fuller, L. ([1940 Lectures at Northwestern University] 1966). The Law in Quest of Itself. Clark, NJ: Lawbook Exchange Ltd.Google Scholar
  5. Gay, P. (1966) The Enlightenment. Vol. 1. The Rise of Modern Paganism. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  6. Kleinfeld, R. (2006) “Competing Definitions of the Rule-of-Law.” In Thomas Carothers (ed.), Promoting the Rule of Law Abroad. Washington, DC: Carnegie, 31–73.Google Scholar
  7. Lesaffer, R. (2009) European Legal History: A Cultural and Political Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. MacIntyre, A. (1981) After Virtue. London: Bloomsbury Academic. Google Scholar
  9. Mufson, S. (1995) “Chinese Movement Seeks Rule of Law to Keep Government in Check.” Washington Post, 5 March, A 25.Google Scholar
  10. Randall, J.H. (1962) The Career of Philosophy. New York: Columbia University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Sebok, A.J. (1995) “Misunderstanding Positivism.” Michigan Law Review, Vol. 93, pp. 2054, 2058, 2126–2132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Tamanaha, B. (2004) On the Rule of Law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Tamanaha, B. (2007) “How an Instrumental View of Law Corrodes the Rule of Law.” DePaul Law Review, Vol. 56, No. 2, pp. 469–505.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nadia E. Nedzel
    • 1
  • Nicholas Capaldi
    • 2
  1. 1.Southern University Law CenterBaton RougeUSA
  2. 2.College of BusinessLoyola University New OrleansNew OrleansUSA

Personalised recommendations