The History and Elements of the Rule of Law
16 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2012 Last revised: 25 Apr 2013
Date Written: February 28, 2012
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.
Keywords: rule of law, legality, government, justice
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation