New book: Gerald J. Postema, Law’s Rule

Law’s Rule
The Nature, Value, and Viability of the Rule of Law

Gerald J. Postema

30% discount if ordered using this promotion code:

Key features of Law’s Rule:

  • A new comprehensive and compelling conception of the rule of law offers a framework for thinking about contemporary challenges to the viability of the rule of law.
  • Applies to both national and transnational communities, and governmental and non-governmental wielders of power.
  • Identifies the animating spirit of the rule of law in an ethos of public participation in holding power wielders accountable.
  • Grounds law’s rule in a compelling understanding of the value of community that recognizes freedom, dignity and equality of each member.
  • Relates the rule of law to justice, democracy and human rights.
  • Recognizes the material, cultural and moral limits of the rule of law.
  • Articulates a role for equity, mercy and pardon within law’s rule.
  • Considers challenges to the rule of law posed by digital platforms and artificial intelligence.
  • Addresses the challenge of maintaining law’s rule in times of national crisis.


Prologue ix


1. The Idea of the Rule of Law 3

2. Power, Accountability, and Law’s Toolbox 23

3. Sovereignty, Equality, and Fidelity 51

4. Moral Foundations 79

5. Rule of Law’s Partners: Democracy, Rights, and Justice 97

6. Realizing Law’s Rule 113

7. Conditions and Limits 131

8. Threats to Law’s Rule 151


9. A Dialectic of Deference and Dissent 171

10. The Trust Challenge 185

11. Dilemmas of Discretion: Equity and Mercy 211

12. Executive Power Leashed: Crisis and Pardon 243

13. Digital Domination: Taming the New Leviathans 263

14. AI in Law or AI in the Place of Law? 293

15. Rule of Law beyond Borders 307

Epilogue 333

The rule of law, once widely embraced and emulated, now faces serious threats to its viability. To get our bearings we must return to first principles. This book articulates and defends a comprehensive, coherent and compelling conception of the rule of law and defends it against serious challenges to its intelligibility, relevance and normative force. The rule of law’s ambition, it argues, is to provide protection and recourse against the arbitrary exercise of power using the distinctive tools of the law. Law provides a bulwark of protection, a bridle on the powerful, and a bond constituting and holding together the polity and giving public expression to an ideal mode of association. Two principles immediately follow from this core: sovereignty of law, demanding that those who exercise ruling power govern with law and that law governs them, and equality in the eyes of the law, demanding that law’s protection extend to all bound by it. Animating law’s rule, the ethos of fidelity commits all members of the political community, officials and lay members alike, to take responsibility for holding each other accountable under the law.  Part I articulates this conception and locates its moral foundation in a commitment to common membership of each person in this community, recognizing their freedom, dignity and status as peers. Part II addresses serious challenges currently facing law’s rule: finding a place in the legal system for equity, mercy and effective responses to emergencies, taming the new leviathans of the digital world, and extending law’s rule beyond national borders.

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