This article offers a critical appraisal of Herbert Spencer’s conception of ethics and law. The author puts special emphasis on Spencer’s "formula of justice", according to which each human being enjoys full freedom of action, limited only by the respect for everyone else’s freedom. As stemming from the natural conditions of human life, this "formula of justice" prevails upon any other legal rule. The general principle of equal freedom is the source of specific forms of freedom, i.e. those particular rights that actually correspond to the corollaries of the "formula of justice". Besides such inborn rights, Spencer analyses both the genesis and the development of this historically determined law, as well as the evolution and the role of legal operators, thus giving a pioneering view of subjects and methods deemed to become crucial for sociology of law in the future.
Keywords: Herbert Spencer - Evolutionism - Justice - Rights - Legal Professions