What is the Rule of Law (and is Not)?

23 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2010

See all articles by Rodolfo Sarsfield

Rodolfo Sarsfield

Center for Latin American Studies on Crime and Violence

Date Written: August 28, 2010


Along with other major concepts in political science, such as democracy (Collier and Levitsky 1997; Munck and Verkuilen 2002), ideology (Gerring 1997), and populism (Weyland 2001), the rule of law seems to be an essentially contested concept (Gallie 1956; Collier, Hidalgo and Maciuceanu 2007). Several contesting conceptions of the rule of law have been provided by Fuller, Finnis, Raz, and Dworkin, with as few as eight dimensions (Fuller 1981) and as many as fourteen (Lauth 2001). Consensus on this essentially contested concept may not be rapidly forthcoming. However, an important first step to have a concept is "distinguished A from whatever is not A," (Sartori 1984:74). In a second step, a full-fledged concept should have a defining set of necessary attributes (Adcock 2005; Sartori 1975 and1984). This paper tries to contribute to the logically starting point of this task: a framework to defining a matrix of potential meanings of the "background concept" (Adcock and Collier 2001) of the rule of law.

Keywords: Conceptualization, the Rule of Law, Background Concept

Suggested Citation

Sarsfield, Rodolfo, What is the Rule of Law (and is Not)? (August 28, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1667682 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1667682

Rodolfo Sarsfield (Contact Author)

Center for Latin American Studies on Crime and Violence ( email )

Buenos Aires

HOME PAGE: http://works.bepress.com/rodolfo_sarsfield/

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