The Living Rule of Law: an essay in virtue jurisprudence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


The 800th anniversary of Magna Carta reminds us of the
value of the rule of law. Yet it also raises a puzzle about where, exactly,
that value is located. Discussion of the rule of law generally revolves
around three main axes: a formal – substantive axis, a state – judicial
axis, and an abstract – concrete axis. All three assume that the rule of
law is at root a matter of good institutional design. Although important,
this is nevertheless problematic, because it masks the presence of law
in everyday human relations and directs attention towards questions of
institutional reform, which often proves ineffectual in practice. To
redirect our attention, we need first to see state law as one (important)
form of a much broader concept of human law, and, second, to see how
relating lawfully is an expression of a pervasive ethical stance towards
others. This in turn enables us to identify the virtues which make law,
and Government by law, possible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-34
Number of pages30
JournalLaw and Justice
Issue number174
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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