Rule Violations and the Rule of Law: A Factorial Survey of Public Attitudes
N. J. Schweitzer
Arizona State University
Douglas J. Sylvester
Arizona State University - College of Law
Michael J. Saks
Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law
DePaul Law Review, 2007
The rule of law is no simple subject; indeed, it is not even an easy task to define what "rule of law" means. Yet people go to great lengths to demonstrate their adherence to the principles of the rule of law. An underlying assumption of those who advocate a formal view of the rule of law is that there is inherent value in adhering to rules. But is that assumption valid? Of what importance are rules, and what consequences do those who violate rules suffer in the eyes of others?
In this Article, we present the findings of a factorial survey exploring questions about the rule of law. Although respondents expressed nearly unanimous support for the general importance of the rule of law, their judgments in response to the case scenarios showed strong sensitivity to the particulars of the situation - especially the purposes that motivated the violations. These findings lend support to the view that whatever the cultural or psychological preference for rules over outcomes, or strict equality over fairness, there may be circumstances in which most people are willing to make situation-specific reassessments of what is just.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 38
Keywords: Rule of law, survey, legitimacy, justice, procedural justice, psychology
Date posted: December 14, 2006