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The Rule of Law as Institutional Ideal

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image of Comparative Sociology
For content published from 1960-2001, see International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

This article aims at offering an innovative interpretation of the potentialities of the “rule of law” for the twenty-first century. It goes beyond current uses and the dispute between formal and substantive conceptions by exploring the roots of the institutional ideal. Also through historical reconstruction and comparative analysis, the core of the rule of law appears to be a peculiar notion. It displays a special objective that the law is asked to achieve, on a legal plane, largely independently of political instrumentalism. The normative meaning is elaborated on and construed around notions of institutional equilibrium, non-domination and “duality” of law. The ideal of the rule of law can be considered as, first, consistent with its historical constants, instead of being forged on purely abstract basis; second, extendable to contemporary institutional transformations, beyond the State; and, third, conceptually sustainable on a legal theoretical plane, where it is located without falling prey to the debate about the morality of valid law.


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