Stair, James Dalrymple, Viscount (1619–95)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


An outstanding lawyer, senior judge, politician, and the founding father of modern Scots Law, Stair is also an interesting, if minor, philosopher of law of the seventeenth century. Stair believed that law is an inherently rational discipline and that its content can be derived from the principles of natural law which are self-evident to all humans. Stair led an active life at the heart of public affairs in seventeenth-century Scotland, finishing up as the chief judge of the supreme civil court. Born in Ayrshire, Scotland, he became a teacher at Glasgow University in 1641, was called to the Bar in 1648, became Judge in the Scots Cromwellian Court 1657, Vice President of the Court of Session 1660, Lord President of the Court of Session (Scotland’s most senior judge) 1671, exiled to Holland 1682, and reappointed Lord President in 1689 subsequent to the ‘Glorious Revolution’.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy
EditorsE Craig
Publication statusPublished - 1998

Bibliographical note

Styles, Scott C.. Stair, James Dalrymple, Viscount (1619–95), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-T053-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,


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