"... freedom of men under government is to have a standing rule
to live by, common to every one of that society, and made by the legislative
power erected in it. A liberty to follow my own will in all things where that
rule prescribes not, not to be subject to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown,
arbitrary will of another man, ..."
— John Locke,
Second Treatise, Ch. 4 §21.
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Constitutionalism — Sometimes
equated with regula iuris, the "Rule of Law", holds that government can and should be legally limited in its powers, and that its authority depends on enforcing those
Essays and Commentaries
Social Contract and Constitutional Republics, Jon
Roland, 1994, with 2007 Supplement.
Works on Tyranny — To understand the principles of constitutional
republican government, one must understand the principles of its opposite.
History & Commentary Collection — Books, anthologies, and
Works of Herbert Spencer (1802-1903) — Early libertarian political
Selected Works, Harvey Wheeler — Papers on
Francis Bacon and constitutional history and law.
The Paradox of Self-Amendment: A Study
of Law, Logic, Omnipotence, and Change, by Peter Suber, Philosophy Department,
Earlham College. Explores logical problems with constitutions, especially
involving amendment of them.
Nullum ius sine summo legislatore.
There is no law without a sovereign (supreme lawgiver).
— Ancient legal maxim.
Politics, Aristotle (~350 BCE) — Laid
out the alternative forms of government.
Discourses on Livy, Niccolo
Machiavelli (1517) — Argues for the ideal form of government being a
republic based on popular consent, defended by militia.
De Cive (The Citizen), Thomas Hobbes
(1641-47) — Laid basis for social contract theory, providing branching
point for the theories of constitutionalism and fascism.
Second Treatise on
Government, John Locke (1689) — Principal proponent of the social
contract theory which forms the basis for modern constitutional republican
Address before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln (1838) — Presents the idea of a political religion.
Law, Frederick Bastiat (1850) — Classic treatment of one of the
main challenges to the survival of democratic government.
Liberty, John Stuart Mill (1860) — Carries social contract theory
Government, John Stuart Mill (1861) — Carries the theory of
constitutional republican government beyond the Framers of the U.S.
Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.
— Napoleon Bonaparte
Polybius and the Founding Fathers: the
separation of powers, by Marshall Davies Lloyd — Analysis of how we got
the idea of separating legislative, executive, and judicial functions into
different branches of government.
City of God, St. Aurelius
Augustin of Hippo (354-430 AD) — Analysis of conflict between Christian
ideal and secular reality in political affairs, first statement of "just war"
in Book 19 Chapter 7.
On the Laws and Customs of
England, Henry de Bracton (1268) — First codification of English
Summa Theologica, St. Thomas
Aquinas (1225-74) — Develops doctrine of righteous government according to
Christian principles, based in part on earlier work of St. Augustine, written
Dialogus, William of Ockham
(1280-1349) — This medieval English political philosopher laid the basis
for the early theory of law, especially on property and the law of nations,
that led to Common Law. In Latin, being translated into English, under
construction. Noted for the Principle of Parsimony, also known as
Ockham's Razor: "Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter
necessitatum" — "Do not multiply entities beyond necessity", or in
other words, "When in doubt, do without." In the theory of knowledge, it means
that among theories that equally explain the facts, always choose the
Third Institute on the Magna
Carta, Sir Edward Coke (1628) — Authoritative commentary on the
Magna Carta as understood at the
Thomas Hobbes — Site dedicated to his
works with commentaries, from Eric Hochberger.
An Inquiry into the Nature And Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith (1776) — Classical economics that shaped the writing of the U.S. Constitution.
John Stuart Mill — Site dedicated to
his works with commentaries, from Eric Hochberger.
On Democracy in America, Alexis
de Toqueville (1835, 1840) — Discusses the society that makes republican
government work and how it is shaped by that form of government.
Disquisition on Government, John
C. Calhoun — Discussed the problem of defending the rights of a minority
against a persistent majority.
The Structure of Liberty, Randy
E. Barnett — Excerpts from a libertarian approach to law.
Contemporary Approaches to the Social
Contract, Entry from online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Liberalism, by Ludwig Von Mises.
Critique of the dominant political faction in the modern world.
Natural Law and Natural Rights, by James A. Donald.
Historical review of the concepts.
Why Freedom? — Debate on social
contract theory between Tibor Machan and Jan Narveson at the Independent
Institute Conference Center, March 31, 1999.