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Past the Pillars of Hercules: Francis Bacon and the Science of Rulemaking

45 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2013  

Daniel Coquillette

Boston College - Law School; Harvard Law School

Date Written: April 8, 2013


The parallels between Francis Bacon’s career and that of Edward H. Cooper are obvious. Bacon was one of the great legal minds of his day and, unlike the common law judges who formed the law by deciding cases, Bacon expressed his greatness in writing brilliant juristic treatises and, as Lord Chancellor, drafting one of the first modern rule systems, the Ordinances in Chancery (1617-1620). My thesis is that Bacon invented modern, scientific rulemaking by fusing his new theories of inductive, empirical research with the traditions of equitable pleading, and is, in fact, the intellectual forebearer of the likes of Charles Clark, Benjamin Kaplan, and Edward Cooper.

Keywords: jurisprudence, common law, legal history

Suggested Citation

Coquillette, Daniel, Past the Pillars of Hercules: Francis Bacon and the Science of Rulemaking (April 8, 2013). University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, Vol. 46, No. 2, 2013; Boston College Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 295. Available at SSRN:

Daniel Coquillette (Contact Author)

Boston College - Law School ( email )

885 Centre Street
Newton, MA 02459-1163
United States

Harvard Law School

1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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