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Authors

Philip Selznick

Abstract

I am here to bring some thoughts about my own country's experience in trying to understand the meaning of the rule of law and to make good on its promise. I will have to take up some issues in jurisprudence, and also some aspects of American legal history. I do not apologize for combining jurisprudence and sociology of law, for that combination faithfully reflects what we are trying to achieve in the Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program (JSP) in the Boalt School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. I begin with some comments on the meaning of the rule of law, then go on to consider some important lessons of American history, including problems we face today. The first thing we must say is that the phrase "rule of law" refers to an ideal, something that we look to as a criterion or standard of good conduct, especially but not exclusively official conduct. "Rule of law" is a way of saying that the rules and procedures of a legal system must meet-or at least strive to meet-tests or standards, which are drawn from fairness and justice. Therefore we must say that the rule of law is law plus standards.

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