Ancient Legal Maxims and Modern Human Rights

Until the middle of the nineteenth century books were still being published which appeared to regard the ancient maxims as central pillars of the  law.’ The teaching of the law was organized around them. They were cited reverentially in court. Since that time the maxims have steadily declined in importance. From guiding principles, they became interesting illustrations and have now all but disappeared from legal literature. I believe that the time is ripe for such a restoration for a number of reasons but especially because of a resurgence of interest among lawyers in morals in general and human rights in particular. The essence of the maxims is a very lofty and humane ethic; the current revived interest in human and environmental values might be considered a rebirth of the spirit of the maxims.

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