Magna Carta, the Rule of Law, and the Limits on Government

38 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2015 Last revised: 21 Oct 2015

See all articles by Jesús Fernández-Villaverde

Jesús Fernández-Villaverde

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: October 15, 2015

Abstract

This paper surveys the legal tradition that links Magna Carta with the modern concepts of the rule of law and the limits on government. It documents that the original understanding of the rule of law included substantive commitments to individual freedom and limited government. Then, it attempts at explaining how and why such commitments were lost to a formalist interpretation of the rule of law from 1848 to 1939. The paper concludes by arguing how a revival of the substantive commitments of the rule of law is central in a project of reshaping modern states.

Keywords: Rule of Law, Magna Carta, Legal Theory, Limited Government

JEL Classification: K10, D78, N43

Suggested Citation

Fernández-Villaverde, Jesús, Magna Carta, the Rule of Law, and the Limits on Government (October 15, 2015). PIER Working Paper No. 15-035. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2676184 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2676184

Jesús Fernández-Villaverde (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics ( email )

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