The Concept of Western Liberal Law Tradition

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Michael Harris
Essay #3

The concept of law as we consider it in the western liberal tradition has far reaching roots and these roots are ancient in origin. This concept has shaped the path that law has taken in our modern society and it has directly influenced Anglo-American law. From the actual concept of law and how it is to be enforced to how citizens should obey and make more laws, this modern marvel of human ingenuity wouldn’t have been possible without the predecessors that came before.

To discuss this further, it is crucial and vital that the origin of law be discussed. But firstly, what exactly is law as we have come to know in the west? There are multitudes of definitions for this simple word but some are more useful than others. For all intents and purposes, one must be chosen. No ordinary Webster definition will work but for the purpose of being a blueprint, reference to black’s law dictionary for a definition is most reliable. According to Black, “That which is laid down, ordained or established.; A rule or method according to which phenomena or actions co-exist or follow each other. That which must be obeyed and followed by citizens, subject to sanctions or legal consequences, is a “law.”(Stathis) This definition is quite useful. It is directly congruent with the concepts of law that have been presented throughout this course. Now that the framework has been laid out, it’s time to build upon it. Ancient civilizations were a vital part of forming the modern western concept of law. To be more exact, the Hebrews were some of the earliest contributors to modern understandings of law. Their contributions were of the utmost importance in shaping and forming our modern understanding of law. For most of human history up until the Hebrews, rules and laws were passed down through use of the oral tradition: where the laws and regulations of the land were passed down by word of mouth. The Hebrews changed this. Although they...
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