Paul Burgess

'Rhetorical conceptions of the Rule of Law: Evolution or Revolution?'

LLM (NYU); JD (Qld); BSc (Aber)

  • Principal Supervisor: Dr Paul J. du Plessis
  • Assistant Supervisor: Dr Claudio Michelon


My PhD topic focusses on the change in the idea of the Rule of Law. In this respect, in addition to the focus on legal theory, it also includes a substantial portion of legal and intellectual history. In my project, I explore the change in three canonical ideas of the Rule of Law in the 17th and 18th centuries - and the revolutions with which they are associated: the English Civil War; The Glorious Revolution; and the US Revolutionary War. In looking at these three periods, and the canonical Rule of Law authors writing within them, my aim is to establish the nature of the change in the concept and to try and ascertain whether the change itself can be properly described as either evolutionary or revolutionary. I returned to academia after a diverse career in a number of industries and following a brief stint as a commercial litigator. Despite these detours, I'm now in the second year of my PhD here at the University of Edinburgh. My recent publications include: The Rule of Law: Beyond Contestedness. Jurisprudence. ( Neglecting the History of the Rule of Law: (Unintended) Conceptual Eugenics. Hague J Rule Law (2017). doi:10.1007/s40803-017-0057-y (; “[The Rule of Law]” in the US Supreme Court: the Elephant in the Court Room? Hague J Rule Law (2016). doi:10.1007/s40803-016-0030-1 (; Should Entick v. Carrington be on our Rule of Law Radar? Jus Politicum 16 – July 2016 (; Maksymilian Del Mar and Michael Lobban (eds), Law in Theory and History: New Essays on a Neglected Dialogue - Book Review. Edinburgh Law Review, Volume 21 Issue 2, Page 305-307. doi:10.3366/elr.2017.0426 (