Essentially the common-law paradigm is an elaboration on the theme, the One and the Many, or the Universal and the Particulars. How these relate, in terms of human society, is one of the key questions for which societies have to make arrangements.

In terms of the political order, it is the question of “top-down” versus “bottom-up,” of legislation/codification versus “judge-made law,” of centralization versus decentralization, etc.

In the contemporary political debate, it is the question of centralized government-driven provision and distribution, versus the capitalist, market-driven order. Two diametrically opposed visions of integration stand behind these alternatives. The government-driven order is based on a splintered society, integrated by government in terms of interests. Decision-making is done by a central distributing power; hence, citizens are relieved of risk-taking and accountability; but to the same degree they are relieved of freedom.

The market-driven order is based on a pluralistic, associationalist society, integrated by the institutions of private law. It is based on decentralized, spontaneous decision-making, and entails both freedom and accountability: higher risk, but correspondingly higher reward.

Hence, citizens stand before a risk/reward calculus. In this sense, they get the regime they deserve, for their vote indicates the result of the calculus. Indeed, this is the trade-off: the benefits received from government are paid for by vote. In this way, an interest-group coalition is formed which may establish a government that on the face of it does not enjoy majority support. This topic will be explored in detail in the section on common-law politics.

In terms of the monetary order, the alternatives are a state-imposed, centrally administered money supply versus a market-driven money supply.

These and other phenomena find optimal resolution through the common-law order. Other solutions are essentially impositions.

What is Common Law?

What is Common Law?

"Common Law" is an umbrella concept, shorthand for a comprehensive order of limited sovereignty; restricted government; private law (property, contract, pledge); the self-reliant citizen; associationalism both public and private, institutional and voluntary;...
The Paradigm of the Common Law

The Paradigm of the Common Law

The common law is a complex phenomenon, having various aspects, each of which conditions and depends on the other aspects. It has a supranational dimension, as the law that stands over sovereignty and conditions it; it has a national dimension,...
The Natural Rights Paradigm

The Natural Rights Paradigm

For the modern world, the original and formative paradigm is based in natural rights. The US Declaration of Independence refers to the right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These, the Declaration states, are the reason for...
The Modernist Paradigm: Salvation by Politics

The Modernist Paradigm: Salvation by Politics

How does the common-law paradigm subsume the conflicts that animate the Left? In other words, how are left-wing objections met and answered in a satisfactory manner? The short answer is: by recognizing that the interest-group-politics model of societal...
Dooyeweerd and the Common Law

Dooyeweerd and the Common Law

Herman Dooyeweerd developed a comprehensive and consistent theory of common law as one of the two methods of integrating and coordinating the social order. The question as to the integrating function of the social order is a crucial one. What is it that...
Edmund Burke's Critique of Natural Rights

Edmund Burke's Critique of Natural Rights

From Reflections on the Revolution in France, in Select Works of Edmund Burke. A New Imprint of the Payne Edition . Foreword and Biographical Note by Francis Canavan (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999). Vol. 2. The [Glorious] Revolution was made to...
How Much Freedom Should We Trade for Our Security?

How Much Freedom Should We Trade for Our Security?

[Note: this essay was submitted to the Shell-Economist Prize Essay Contest 2002. It didn't win. After taking a look at the essays which did win, I realized my efforts had been entirely wasted. I found that I hadn't mastered the art of the self-absorbed...