The Concept of the Rule of Law
The Rule of Law is an important political ideal, which has achieved unprecedented support; this has, in turn, given rise to unmatched rhetorical power. The concept is frequently invoked by politicians, the media and scholars in attempts to justify or condemn state actions, political decisions, or whole legal systems. So what is the Rule of Law? What state of affairs does the term connote? What conditions must be present for a claim that the Rule of Law exists to be legitimate? Unfortunately, the only thing that seems to consistently garner agreement within Rule of Law discourse is that there is pervasive disagreement within Rule of Law discourse. The author of this chapter argues that the radical disagreement that currently surrounds the Rule of Law is evidence of undisciplined conceptual theorizing and sketches some basic methodological points about conceptual analysis, which have been overlooked by current theorists engaged in Rule of Law discourse. In order to move towards a shared understanding of the Rule of Law and thus enable meaningful discourse, it is necessary to reconsider the concept in light of these considerations. It is a responsibility to clarify this concept in order to ensure that our most important and salient political discussions and decisions have meaning and merit, not just force.
KeywordsConceptual Analysis Common Good Current Usage Formal Legality Reflective Equilibrium
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