Law and order as asymmetrical opposite to the rule of law

Nick Cheesman*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    26 Citations (Scopus)


    Although law and order is often conflated with the rule of law, the two concepts are asymmetrically opposed. Asymmetrical opposites do not occupy poles on a scale of shared values. One is not a negative of the other, as rule of men traditionally has been to the rule of law. Nor does one occupy part of a continuum extending down from the other, like rule by law in relation to the rule-of-law ideal. They are not symmetrically related. They are opposed because their specific contents are adverse. Whereas the rule of law is characteristically concerned with eliminating arbitrariness through general rules applied juridically, law and order is primarily concerned with eliminating restlessness through particularistic injunctions delivered administratively. Different values inhere to each. Their opposition is in principle. Consequently, they cannot be conflated without obfuscating their distinctive qualities, thereby casting doubt on the meaning of the rule of law as a political ideal.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)96-114
    Number of pages19
    JournalHague Journal on the Rule of Law
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2014


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