I teach a survey course on the legal and ethical environments of business, and one of the most challenging aspects of teaching such a course is that business law encompasses almost every area of law. At the very least, however, a college course in business law should address two high-level questions: (1) what is the relation between law and morality? (after all, my course is literally called “the legal and ethical environments of business”), and (2) what is the most important feature of the “legal environment” in which firms, employees, and entrepreneurs make decisions and interact with each other? With respect to this second question, I would argue that the “rule of law” is an important aspect of the legal environment of business, but this observation, in turn, poses two further questions: (3a) what is the “rule of law”? and (3b) why is it important, especially to business? To address these key questions, I am asking the students in my honors section to read “The Rule of Law” by Tom Bingham during the first third of the semester. (According to Wikipedia, Bingham was an eminent British judge and the greatest lawyer of his generation.) Starting late next week, I will begin writing up and posting a chapter-by-chapter review of Bingham’s classic book.
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