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Instructor: Gerald Postema. This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 – 1:45 p.m. in Graham Memorial 210.

The Rule of Law: National and Global Perspectives

In this course, we will explore the connections between law and justice. The central organizing idea is the notion of “the rule of law.” This notion played a very large role in Western political thinking since the middle ages and in modern constitutional thought. Over the last century it has had a strong presence in thinking about the international legal order. The world-wide respect for the ideal is (in part) the legacy of the Nuremberg Trials in which Nazi war criminals were tried by an international tribunal. Yet, those trials themselves seemed to compromise the ideal. The trials and the notion of the rule of law have remained controversial. Some believe that the ideal of the rule of law can be derived from a sound understanding of law itself, others argue that it has its roots in fundamental notions of liberty, others attack it as a piece of Western (or American) ideology. This course will explore the philosophical foundations and practical applications of the notion of the rule of law, and will focus on the importance of the rule of law in the international domain for protection of human rights.

Book: Geoffrey Robertson, Crimes Against Humanity, NY: New Press, 2006 (new edition), [paperback] ISBN: 1595580719.

Gerald Postema’s webpage