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Carl Schmitt’s critique of liberalism includes a specific attack on the philosophical coherence of the rule of law as a component of constitutional sovereignty, a view he identifies with the wider liberal tradition. Despite his associations with Nazism it has been taken up recently by post-modern critics of Liberalism. This article analyses Schmitt’s claims and then compares them with what representative liberals actually say about the rule of law. The finding is that at least two major thinkers -- Locke and Burke -- show none of the ignorance or naivete with which Schmitt charges the tradition. Concepts such as the exception are recognised and included in their political analyses -- but, unlike Schmitt, not in their prescriptions.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Politics, Exeter University, Rennes Drive, Exeter, Devon EX4 4RJ

Publication date: 2007-01-01

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