The Philosophy of Law and the Rule of Law


Throughout the ages, scholars and politicians have debated the Rule of Law and its importance. The arguments have lasted from the time of Aristotle to the Renaissance. In the medieval period, theorists like Niccolo Machiavelli tried to distinguish between lawful and despotic forms of kingship. In the early modern period, the debate continued in European Enlightenment and American constitutionalism. In the modern era, the arguments are still going strong.

Philosophy of law

The philosophy of law has evolved and grown over the centuries, largely due to the work of philosophers such as Plato. In his dialogue Crito, Plato first asserted that law is a normative system that claims authority over its subjects and creates an obligation of obedience. While other works of Plato refer to law, none of them articulate a comprehensive philosophy of law in the modern sense. In The Laws, Plato presents specific proposals for reforming laws of his time, but fails to address the larger philosophical questions that remain.

Natural law theory of law

In the debate on the nature of law, there are a number of competing theories, including the Natural Law Theory. This theory accepts the existence of natural laws as a basis for the creation and enforcement of law, and rejects the inclusionist and exclusivist views. This theory emphasizes that moral rules can also be considered legal.

Overlap thesis

The Overlap Thesis is a philosophical view that argues that the concepts of morality and law are entwined. Without these notions, no system of rules can achieve morally valuable objectives. This thesis has many different interpretations, but is generally embraced by natural law theorists.

Legal education

The major mission of law schools is to train graduates to serve the public interest. While wealthy individuals and large corporations will always benefit from high-quality legal representation, most people cannot afford to hire an attorney for a variety of reasons. Standard legal services for the public are related to employment disputes, consumer disputes, housing problems, and problems with government benefits.

Formal elements of the Rule of Law

The Rule of Law is a concept which enables people to have access to justice and to be equal before the law. It reduces the arbitrary, peremptory, and irrational nature of power. It also establishes a bond of reciprocity and mutuality of constraint.

Jurisprudential theories of law

Jurisprudential theories of law are those that deal with the ultimate grounds for first-order legal judgments. They are often used to resolve difficult first-order legal disputes. Theorists such as Ronald Dworkin view jurisprudential theories as covert first-order legal theories.