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Foundations of Public Law$
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Martin Loughlin

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199256853

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199256853.001.0001

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Rechtsstaat, Rule of Law, l'Etat de droit

Rechtsstaat, Rule of Law, l'Etat de droit

(p.312) 11 Rechtsstaat, Rule of Law, l'Etat de droit
Foundations of Public Law

Martin Loughlin

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the origins of the various articulations of the general expression of the ‘rule of law’ in English, German, and French legal thought. It shows that the role performed by this expression significantly varies across different governing regimes. Further, although a coherent formulation of the general concept can be devised, this formulation is entirely unworkable in practice and that, for this reason, the ‘rule of law’ cannot be conceived as a foundational concept in public law. Since its general and ambiguous character renders it peculiarly susceptible to being used for ideological purposes, it is suggested that the expression much be used carefully and that the extent to which its aspirational qualities can be realized in practice must remain a political achievement.

Keywords:   Rechtsstaat, rule of law, L'Etat de droit, Oakeshott, Fuller

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