The History and Elements of the Rule of Law
Brian Z. Tamanaha
Washington University in Saint Louis - School of Law
February 28, 2012
Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-02-07
This Public Lecture, delivered at the Singapore Academy of Law, provides an overview of the history and elements of the rule of law. I begin with a definition of the rule of law, and I elaborate on what this definition entails as well as what it excludes. I then explore three core themes: 1) government limited by law, 2) formal legality, and 3) “the rule of law, not man.” With respect to each theme, I describe strengths as well as limitations of the rule of law. In closing, I identify the key source of the rule of law in society, and I mention the diversity of manifestations of the rule of law across societies. A central theme of the essay is that the rule of law, while delivering many benefits, does not by itself insure a just government or society.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 16
Keywords: rule of law, legality, government, justiceworking papers series
Date posted: March 1, 2012 ; Last revised: April 25, 2013
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