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Title: Making law about power
Author: Sempill, Julian Andrei
ISNI:       0000 0004 6062 435X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the inhabitants of some parts of Europe and the North American colonies were confronted with proto-state institutional arrangements. In certain cases, they responded ambivalently. That ambivalence is at the heart of what I will call the 'limited government tradition'. The tradition's adherents thought that long historical experience, not to mention the events of their own times, provided ample evidence of the corrupting effects of power on those who wield it. Power-holders, left to their own devices, are likely to succumb to the temptations of power by exercising it arbitrarily. Where they are able to do so comprehensively and systematically, the upshot is tyranny. How, then, to ensure that state power is constituted in a manner that is inhospitable to tyranny? The tradition envisaged a range of measures, including a distinctive vision of 'the Rule of Law'. The Rule of Law would both define and enforce certain limits on state power. This study argues that the tradition's hostility to political absolutism is based on moral foundations which apply with equal force to economic power. The tradition ought to examine the modern constitution of economic power to determine whether it is hospitable to arbitrariness and tyranny. If such an examination is undertaken, we learn that modern economic power poses the kind of moral dangers that the tradition's Rule of Law project is designed to combat. However, the tradition assumes that it need not treat economic power as even a potential target of the Rule of Law. I will call that assumption the 'Consensus'. This study's first major aim is to explain the origins and stubbornness of the Consensus. Its second major aim is to persuade readers that the Consensus is mistaken: the tradition must regard economic power as, at least, a potential target of the Rule of Law.
Supervisor: Galligan, Denis Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Rule of law ; Law--Philosophy ; Law--History ; Constitutional law