Fidelity, Accountability and Trust: Tensions at the Heart of the Rule of Law

26 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2018

See all articles by Gerald J. Postema

Gerald J. Postema

University of North Carolina - Philosophy

Date Written: February 19, 2018

Abstract

From the notions of fidelity, accountability, and trust springs a robust and attractive understanding of the rule of law. Yet, frequently it has been argued that accountability drives out trust, that it is from distrust that the demand for accountability stems. We should not look to law and its ethos of accountability to hold human communities together or even to underwrite a robust program of controlling the exercise of ruling power. I call this the “trust challenge.” If the trust challenge is sound, the rule of law looks to be self-defeating, at least on the understanding of the rule of law that I have sought to defend in recent years. In this essay I answer this challenge. I argue that, in fact, accountability and trust are close allies in interpersonal morality and civic life.

Keywords: rule of law, fidelity, trust, accountability, proleptic trust, distrust, mistrust

Suggested Citation

Postema, Gerald J., Fidelity, Accountability and Trust: Tensions at the Heart of the Rule of Law (February 19, 2018). UNC Legal Studies Research Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3126397 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3126397

Gerald J. Postema (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina - Philosophy ( email )

Caldwell Hall
CB #3125
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3125
United States

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