Volume 71 Issue 1, winter 2021, pp. 126-143

In The Public’s Law, Blake Emerson proposes a ‘Progressive theory’ of administrative law that fuses Hegelian and democratic elements. The Progressive theory calls on administrators to make autonomous ethical and political judgments as opposed to restricting themselves to the instrumental application of statutory mandates. Such judgments are to respond to a diffuse process of deliberative engagement with the public. This review essay expounds the Progressive theory and discusses its relevance for administrative law debates in Canada. It closes with consideration of an important challenge to the theory – namely, whether it relies on an overly comprehensive conception of democracy.