Modernity and the Law: A Late Twentieth Century View

27 Pages Posted: 26 Feb 2019 Last revised: 3 Mar 2019

Date Written: February 24, 2019


This essay explores Roberto Unger’s understanding of the specific significance that modernity has for law. It provides an account of the distinctions among customary law, bureaucratic law, the modern liberal rule of law ideal, and the unraveling of the rule of law in post-liberal societies. It compares his views in a preliminary way with those of other major theorists of modernity and with legal theorists. Finally, it discusses his speculations about then future developments and the relationship between central institutional and philosophical issues.

Keywords: Modernity, Liberalism, Post-Liberalism, Rule of Law

JEL Classification: K10, K30

Suggested Citation

Burns, Robert P., Modernity and the Law: A Late Twentieth Century View (February 24, 2019). Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 19-04, Available at SSRN: or

Robert P. Burns (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-6613 (Phone)
312-503-8977 (Fax)

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics