Journal article

The Rule of Law and the Rule of Men: History, Legacy, Obscurity

J Sempill

Hague Journal on the Rule of Law | Published : 2020


The distinction between “the rule of law” and “the rule of men” is still in use, after more than two and a half thousand years. It is well known that Aristotle’s aphorism extols government according to institutionalized impersonal rules and condemns government by personal fiat. However, the formulation has another dimension that, during the course of the modern era, has gradually been obscured: Aristotle, following Plato, is making a set of philosophical points about the relations between human nature, the wider natural order, and positive law. The first part of this article offers an account of this neglected dimension of the ancient contrast between “the rule of law” and “the rule of men”...

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University of Melbourne Researchers