Edited by Christopher May and Adam Winchester
Chapter 2: The promise of a thick view
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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