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Liberal legalism is a political and legal theory which can be defined as a belief that politics should be constrained by legal constitutional boundaries.

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Legalism, in the Western sense, is an approach to the analysis of legal questions characterized by abstract logical reasoning focusing on the applicable legal text, such as a constitution, legislation, or case law, rather than on the social, economic, or political context. Legalism has occurred both in civil and common law traditions.

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In Chinese history, Legalism (Chinese: 法 家; pinyin: Fǎjiā; Wade-Giles: Fa-chia; literally "School of law") was one of the main philosophic currents during the Warring States Period, though it should be noted that the term itself was invented in the Han dynasty and thus does not refer to an organized 'school' of thought.

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Legalism, in Christian theology, is a sometimes-pejorative term referring to an over-emphasis on law or codes of conduct, or legal ideas, usually implying an allegation of misguided rigor, pride, superficiality, the neglect of mercy, and ignorance of the grace of God or emphasizing the letter of law over the spirit.

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