Dicey: Unitary, Self-Correcting Democracy and Public Law


in Public Law and Democracy in the United Kingdom and the United States of America

Published in print January 1991 | ISBN: 9780198256373
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191681646 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Law Series

Dicey: Unitary, Self-Correcting Democracy and Public Law

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This chapter demonstrates that the ‘traditional’ view of public law is integrally related to a conception of society and representative democracy held by Dicey. Dicey’s views on constitutional and administrative law have been contested by many. The analysis here considers these critiques. It explores the way in which his theories were explicitly premised upon certain assumptions on representative democracy. It argues that his misconceptions weakened his conclusions on constitutional and administrative law. While there are statements which continue to reflect the self-correcting view of representative democracy, there was a realization that the matters may not be so simple. This was most apparent in Dicey’s discussion of the debt of collectivism to Benthamism.

Keywords: sovereignty; traditional constitutional law; traditional administrative law; legislative monopoly; Law and Opinion

Chapter.  18008 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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