Partisans of political constitutions and the so-called “rule of law” insist that they are devices meant primarily to curtail abuses of power. Some among us - the decisive American certainly and the vacillating Antipodean partly - argue that this idea is both theoretically misleading and historically baseless; perhaps indeed powerless. So how should we be discussing the complicated relations between power (public and private) and the legal and institutional arrangements that have evolved in aspirationally liberal societies to cope with the main challenge of human coexistence in a domestically diverse and internationally unforgiving environment?
Martin Krygier is Gordon Samuels Professor of Law and Social Theory at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia and currently Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM).
Stephen Holmes is Walter E. Meyer Professor of Law at New York University and currently Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM).