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The Rule of Law: Athenian Antecedents to Contemporary Debates

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date1/10/2012
JournalHague Journal of the Rule of Law
Journal number2
Volume4
Number of pages17
Pages235-251
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The rule of law has become the common sense of contemporary global politics. In this article I explore whether the earliest recorded deliberations on the rule of law, those found in political debates in Ancient Greece, have any salience for contemporary discussions of the norm. The article briefly maps historical jurisprudential debates about the rule of law in Greece (and Athens especially) to suggest that no sooner were laws developed to shape society so consideration also turned to how the rule of law might be understood and defined. Moreover, the debates in Athens raise a number of issues, linked most clearly to a procedural perception of the rule of law’s contours that can be identified (equally) in debates about the norm in the new millennium. The lesson that these debates prompt is that while the rule of law and democracy may be linked, it is not necessary for either to be well developed (approaching current liberal standards) for progressive debates to be engendered about the further development of a just rule of law.