The Ideological Origins of the Rule of Law
Presented at The Life and Legacy of Douglass North Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of North’s Nobel Prize in Economics, March 2018
30 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2018
Date Written: April 20, 2018
The background conditions for the emergence of the rule of law are important but underdeveloped. This paper traces more fully the relationship between the concept of human equality and the development of the rule of law. It presents evidence that the Jewish and Christian concept of all human beings as God’s image bearers is an important contributor to the rule of law in Western civilization. The formulation of universal human equality was not, however, a sufficient condition for the emergence of the rule of law. It took centuries of articulation in different institutions and social settings. It only reached full fruition when it was joined with an understanding of appropriate political systems as expressed by political theorists such as Locke, Montesquieu, and Madison.
Keywords: rule of law, religion
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