Research Article

DOI :10.26650/mecmua.2021.79.4.0006   IUP :10.26650/mecmua.2021.79.4.0006    Full Text (PDF)

Jeremy Waldron and His Procedural Understanding of the Rule of Law

Gürkan Çapar

The ideal of rule of law (RoL) is generally associated with Lon Fuller. He affirms that a legal system has its own morality independent of objective morality if it lives up to his eight principles. Even though Fuller’s conception generally is related to procedural natural law or RoL, Jeremy Waldron asserts that when Fuller’s principles are seen in cold light it seems highly unlikely that one could appraise his conception as procedural. Many of those principles pertain to the formal criteria addressed to lawmaking authorities to assist in legislative activities. However, they place emphasis more on the form the law must take at the end of the legislative process than on the process itself. Based on that criticism, Waldron contends, developing a novel procedural conception of RoL, that it is better to consider Fuller’s principles as formal, than to call them procedural. In general, the discussion on the RoL revolves around the tension between formal and substantive understandings. Whereas legal positivists often defend the former, proponents of natural law support the latter. This study aspires to explain Waldron’s procedural conception of RoL, which goes beyond the dichotomy between formal and substantive conceptualizations. In doing so, it shows how procedural conception differs from others in analyzing its relationship with others and by emphasizing the differences between their distinctive understandings of legal subjects. In short, it will show how a rational and self-directed legal subject left its place to a subject capable of putting forward arguments, discussing and developing the meaning of law, say, before the courts. . It will discuss what law is before the courts. Finally, this study aspires to establish a connection between the shortcomings of the formal conception of RoL and its crisis that we are experiencing across the globe.

DOI :10.26650/mecmua.2021.79.4.0006   IUP :10.26650/mecmua.2021.79.4.0006    Full Text (PDF)

Jeremy Waldron ve Prosedürel Hukuk Devleti Anlayışı

Gürkan Çapar

Hukuk devleti denildiğinde akla ilk gelen isim şüphesiz ki Lon Fuller’dir. Fuller ileri sürdüğü sekiz ilkesi ile hukuk sisteminin kendine özgü bir ahlakı olduğunu iddia ederek doğal hukuka sığınmadan hukuki pozitivizmin bir eleştirisini yapmıştır. Bu yaklaşım genellikle prosedürel doğal hukuk veya prosedürel hukuk devleti olarak isimlendirilmesine rağmen, Jeremy Waldron, Fuller’ın sekiz ilkesi incelendiğinde böyle bir değerlendirmenin yerinde olmayacağını belirtmiştir. Öncelikle, Fuller’ın ilkeleri yasa koyucunun yasama süresince göz önünde bulundurması gereken kriterlerden ziyade bir çıktı olarak hukuk normunun taşıması gereken formel niteliklerle ilgilidir, bu nedenle de bu ilkeleri prosedürel yerine formel olarak isimlendirmek daha yerinde olacaktır. Fuller’ın hukuk devleti anlayışı formel olarak nitelendirilince, Waldron’a kendi prosedürel hukuk devleti kavramını oluşturabilmek için bir alan da ortaya çıkmıştır. Fuller’ın sekiz ilkesi ile özdeşleşen formel-şekli ve doğal hukukçular tarafından savunulan içeriksel-maddi hukuk devleti anlayışlarının ötesine geçerek, Waldron prosedürel bir hukuk devleti anlayışı geliştirir. Bu çalışmada Waldron tarafından kavramlaştırılan bu hukuk devleti anlayışı gerek formel gerekse de maddi hukuk devleti ile olan ilişkisi içerisinde incelenecek ve diğerlerinden ayrılan yönleri ortaya konulacaktır. Ayrıca, Fuller’ın hukuk kurallarını anlayan ve kendi davranışlarına bu kuralları uygulayan, onur sahibi rasyonel özne tasarımı ile Waldron’un argüman ileri süren, hukukun ne olduğunun belirlenmesi sürecine katkıda bulunan aktif öznesi karşılaştırılacaktır. Son olarak, bu çalışmada hukuk devleti kavramı sadece akademik merakın ve teorik bir incelemenin nesnesi olmaktan ziyade; onun içinde bulunduğumuz, tecrübe ettiğimiz ve bir anlamda da öznesi olduğumuz hukuk devleti krizi ile bağlantısı görünür kılınmaya çalışılacaktır. Bunu yaparken ise, formel hukuk devleti anlayışının neden hukuk devletinin krizini görmemiz konusunda yetersiz kaldığı sorgulanacak ve prosedürel anlayışın ne ölçüde bu krizi tespit etmemize yardımcı olacağı incelenecektir.


The ideal of rule of law (RoL) generally is associated with Lon Fuller and his understanding of rule of law comprising eight principles. Even though Fuller conceives of RoL as procedural, Jeremy Waldron asserts that when seen in cold light, it is highly probable to qualify Fuller’s eight principles as formal rather than procedural. The majority of his principles emphasize how the legislature should enact laws if it is to achieve its objective of guiding the behaviors of legal subjects. Moreover, legal-positivist approaches to the RoL emphasize the legislature, rules, and lawmaking dimension of the law at the expense of the courts, adjudication, and procedural principles observed before the courts. That is why RoL theories, introduced under the legal-positivist camp, concern themselves with the following question: What are the basic conditions of effective lawmaking? In short, they, by overemphasizing the output aspect of law, overlooked the question of how the enacted laws, namely legal acts, are applied in concrete cases. That is why Waldron turns his attention to the courts, adjudication, and adjudicative procedures and brings forward a novel procedural approach to the RoL.

The first part of this paper will set the stage for Waldron’s procedural approach to the RoL by pointing out the connection between the concepts of law and rule of law. Without a doubt, our conception of law will have a huge impact on the conception of RoL we defend. For instance, legal positivists are associated with formal conception thereof, natural lawyers support RoL’s substantive conceptions. In short, Waldron’s aim is to steer a middle course between them. He does so by not only overcoming the deficiencies of Fuller’s theory but also benefiting from the inspiring ideas of Dworkin. However, Waldron is also highly cautious of staying away from a substantive conception of RoL.

The problem that Waldron tackled is as follows: On the one hand, RoL means that rules, which are general, clear, prospective, promulgated, and so on, will guide behaviors of individuals. On the other hand, law is an argumentative discipline, and individuals, lawyers, and judges discuss what the law is in each concrete case and particular situation. Then the question arises: How could an argumentative and constantly regenerating discipline be clear and determinate enough to instruct individuals what to do in a concrete case? That is the tension for which Waldron struggles to find an answer. The middle way that he strives to follow will haunt us in the second part of the paper. Law is of a relatively indeterminate character, and that is because of the rights endowed to citizens such as access to justice, right to a hearing, and right to a fair trial. However, law also should be at least sufficiently clear enough to provide guidance to individuals and endow them with at least minimum freedoms, such as to live according to their own preferences and choices.

The third part of the paper will dwell on Waldron’s procedural RoL and touch on the four foundational criteria of any conception of law that Waldron introduced. It will also pay attention to the unorthodox connection that Waldron established between the concepts of law and RoL. This part will also engage with the point of view taken by Waldron in his novel approach to the RoL by pointing out Waldron’s emphasis on the real subjects, namely citizens, of the RoL. By doing so, he argues that we should adopt a deeper or real internal point of view by leaving behind discussions between legal academics on the meaning or essence of the concepts. Thus, it is not an exaggeration to claim that Waldron in some sense has internalized the internal point of view by applying its insights to his theory. As such, the addressee of the RoL has undergone such a transformation that it has become an active center of intelligence from Fuller’s passive and rule-applying subject. Last, the study also aspires to establish a connection between the shortcomings of the formal conception of the rule of law and its global crisis, which we are experiencing at every level, say; domestic, supranational, and international.

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Çapar, G. (2021). Jeremy Waldron and His Procedural Understanding of the Rule of Law. Istanbul Law Review, 79(4), 1285-1321.


Çapar G. Jeremy Waldron and His Procedural Understanding of the Rule of Law. Istanbul Law Review. 2021;79(4):1285-1321.


Çapar, G. Jeremy Waldron and His Procedural Understanding of the Rule of Law. Istanbul Law Review, [Publisher Location], v. 79, n. 4, p. 1285-1321, 2021.

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Çapar, Gürkan,. 2021. “Jeremy Waldron and His Procedural Understanding of the Rule of Law.” Istanbul Law Review 79, no. 4: 1285-1321.

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Çapar, Gürkan,. Jeremy Waldron and His Procedural Understanding of the Rule of Law.” Istanbul Law Review 79, no. 4 (Sep. 2022): 1285-1321.

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Çapar, G 2021, 'Jeremy Waldron and His Procedural Understanding of the Rule of Law', Istanbul Law Review, vol. 79, no. 4, pp. 1285-1321, viewed 28 Sep. 2022,

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Çapar, G. (2021) ‘Jeremy Waldron and His Procedural Understanding of the Rule of Law’, Istanbul Law Review, 79(4), pp. 1285-1321. (28 Sep. 2022).


Çapar, Gürkan,. Jeremy Waldron and His Procedural Understanding of the Rule of Law.” Istanbul Law Review, vol. 79, no. 4, 2021, pp. 1285-1321. [Database Container],


Çapar G. Jeremy Waldron and His Procedural Understanding of the Rule of Law. Istanbul Law Review [Internet]. 28 Sep. 2022 [cited 28 Sep. 2022];79(4):1285-1321. Available from: doi: 10.26650/mecmua.2021.79.4.0006


Çapar, Gürkan. Jeremy Waldron and His Procedural Understanding of the Rule of Law”. Istanbul Law Review 79/4 (Sep. 2022): 1285-1321.


First Revision12.05.2021
Last Revision16.10.2021
Published Online31.12.2021


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