Objective law is one of mankind's noblest achievements, yet its history is little known. This course surveys key individuals who caused (or symbolized) the legal innovations which, accumulating over many centuries, enabled Western civilization to flourish under limited government.
"Reason is the life of the law," wrote Sir Edward Coke in 1628, naming this course's theme. Mr. Bowden examines the accomplishments of fabled lawgivers (such as Hammurabi and Solon) - of jurists, commentators, and champions of law's supremacy (such as Gaius, Coke, and Blackstone) - of unifiers and codifiers (such as Justinian and Napoleon) - of constitutionalists (such as Madison and Marshall) - and many others.
The historical evidence illuminates various aspects of legal objectivity in action. For example, Hammurabi's Code - consisting of easily understood rules inscribed on a stone pillar in a public square - gave mankind a shining example of how law can be objective in form. Sir Edward Coke repeatedly defied the King of England, risking a traitor's death, to uphold the rule of law against the rule of men (in the form of the royal prerogative). And Justice John Marshall, through his decisions in such cases as Marbury v. Madison, showed how conscientious integration is essential to achieving and maintaining objectivity in a legal system.
The precious legacy bequeathed to us by these giants of the law will one day enable lawmakers guided by Ayn Rand's concept of individual rights to establish a fully objective legal system, for the first time in history.
This course was recorded at the 2007 Objectivist Summer Conference in Telluride, CO.
(MP3 download; 4 hrs., 17 min., with Q & A, 188.17 MB)