Handbook on the Rule of Law
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Handbook on the Rule of Law

Edited by Christopher May and Adam Winchester

The discussion of the norm of the rule of law has broken out of the confines of jurisprudence and is of growing interest to many non-legal researchers. A range of issues are explored in this volume that will help non-specialists with an interest in the rule of law develop a nuanced understanding of its character and political implications. It is explicitly aimed at those who know the rule of law is important and while having little legal background, would like to know more about the norm.
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Chapter 2: The promise of a thick view

Adriaan Bedner

Abstract

Many scholars prefer a ‘thin’ conception of the rule of law, because of the analytical value of the concept. Nonetheless, ‘thick ‘ rule of law conceptions, which include substantive elements such as fundamental rights and liberties, continue to be popular. This chapter argues that the preference for a thin or a thick conception of the rule of law depends on the purpose its users have in mind – as an analytical tool indicating a certain quality of a legal system or as a shorthand for a liberal legal state. The chapter moreover shows that the historical reasons given by scholars such as Joseph Raz for preferring a thin definition are unfounded. The concept of rule of law has always developed in combination with ideas about fundamental rights and liberties, not only in England, but also in France and Germany.

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