Volume 16, Issue 1/2, 2006
Randall A. Poole
Sergei Kotliarevskii and the Rule of Law in Russian Liberal Theory
This essay is an explication and analysis of the work of Sergei Kotliarevskii, a major Russian liberal theorist, focusing on his 1915 treatise Vlast’ i pravo. Problema pravovogo gosudarstva (Power and Law: The Problem of the Lawful State). Although the “lawful state” has long been a subject of interest and controversy (even at the definitional level) among historians and political scientists, curiously Kotliarevskii has not received the attention he deserves. His study of the concept of the lawful state, which for him was integrally related to the ideal of the rule of law, is an important Russian contribution to the history and philosophy of law and the state. This essay explores the philosophical sources and contexts of his work; his understanding of the relationship among power, law, and the
state; his thesis that religious ideas and institutions were most important in the historical development of legal consciousness; his consideration of the modern constitutional state; and his conviction that personhood—the absolute value and dignity of the human person—was the ultimate justification for the rule of law.