Legal Justice: Why We Need the Rule of Law to Achieve Justice

Justice is the set and constant purpose to render to every person what he or she is due as a matter of right. To be just we must know what is right to do or refrain from doing toward other people. Some rights are universal and absolute, such as the rights not to be killed, maimed, and defamed. Others are particular and contingent on law. For example, justice forbids theft, but what counts as theft depends in part on which resources are defined in law as objects of private property. So we need the rule of law in order to have justice. If powerful people are free to ignore or flout the law, or if law is whatever the powerful people say it is, then we do not have the rule of law; we have rule by the powerful. Law must stand independent of and superior to the will of the powerful. It must bind the reason of the weak and powerful alike.

Download course materials:

Course Year: