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 20: The rule of law and feminism: The dilemma of differences

Anna Loretoni


The introduction of the question of gender in the various disciplines has been very productive in deconstructing and transforming the essential features of the research paths and the concepts as well. This chapter starts critically focusing on the critique of the idea of universality and neutrality, a typical idea of liberal thinking and deeply embedded in its theoretical paradigms, included the definition of rule of law. Through a process of deconstruction, feminism has been enable to identify in the space of law a form that confers an appearance of neutrality to theoretical categories that in fact entails an implicit adherence to a given social and political model of individual. Furthermore, the chapter analyses the feminist approach towards the subjective identities, the abandonment of universalism and the adoption of an approach which is looking at individuals in the context of their specific social relationships. Stemming from this perspective, two main topics are underlined. The first is the conception of justice as equal distribution of goods. According to the author, rights should not be conceived as goods or property. Rather than being objects, rights are relationships and institutionally defined rules, they do not refer to what the person materially possesses. Therefore, the chapter proposes a definition of injustice not as a mere withdrawal of goods, rather than a restriction of freedom and, above all, an injury to dignity, including in this definition the relevance of ‘immaterial factors’. In this same perspective, finally, the chapter proposes a second topic, related to the comparison between rights language and capability approach.

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