Book Review: Philosophical Foundations of Fiduciary Law

9 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2017

Date Written: December 16, 2015


This book review examines Philosophical Foundations of Fiduciary Law, edited by Professors Andrew S. Gold and Paul B. Miller, a 2015 addition to Oxford’s Philosophical Foundations of Law series. In recent years, fiduciary law has received increasing attention from courts and legal scholars as a field of private law; fiduciary principles have been applied to public institutions and public officials as well. In this context, Professors Gold and Miller assembled an impressive collection of twenty papers from a variety of scholars with differing areas of expertise. The contributors also vary geographically, which leads to diversity in approach. This review discusses some of the key chapters and then offers a critique, namely that nearly all of the contributors adopt a theoretical frame for the fiduciary obligation that is open to doubt. The frame is that fiduciary relationships arise when one party has discretionary authority over the assets or affairs of another. The review discusses the discretionary authority approach, explores its defects, and explains why the defects call into question what has become an important theory of fiduciary duties. Notwithstanding this critique, anyone interested in fiduciary relationships and fiduciary law will benefit greatly from this body of work.

Keywords: fiduciary duty, fiduciary relationships, fiduciary obligation, fiduciary theory, duty of loyalty, duty of care

JEL Classification: G24, G30, K10, K19, K22, K23

Suggested Citation

Laby, Arthur B., Book Review: Philosophical Foundations of Fiduciary Law (December 16, 2015). Law and Philosophy, Vol. 35, No. 1, 2016, Available at SSRN:

Arthur B. Laby (Contact Author)

Rutgers Law School ( email )

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