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The religious origins of the rule of law

Peter J. Hill

Journal of Institutional Economics, 2020, vol. 16, issue 3, 305-318

Abstract: The background conditions for the emergence of the rule of law are important but underdeveloped. This paper discusses current theories of the origin of the rule of law, arguing that they are useful but incomplete. In addition to those theories, the Jewish and Christian concept of all human beings as God's image bearers is an important contributor to the rule of law in Western civilization. The formulation of universal human equality is not, however, a sufficient condition for the emergence of the rule of law. The concept has taken centuries of articulation in different institutions and social settings. It only reached full fruition when it was joined with an understanding of appropriate legal and political systems as expressed by political theorists such as Locke, Montesquieu, and Madison.

Date: 2020
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Handle: RePEc:cup:jinsec:v:16:y:2020:i:3:p:305-318_4