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Rule Violations and the Rule of Law: A Factorial Survey of Public Attitudes

38 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2006  

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

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Rule of law, survey, legitimacy, justice, procedural justice, psychology

Suggested Citation

Schweitzer, N. J. and Sylvester, Douglas J. and Saks, Michael J., Rule Violations and the Rule of Law: A Factorial Survey of Public Attitudes. DePaul Law Review, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=951005

Nicholas J. Schweitzer

Arizona State University ( email )

PO BOX 37100
Phoenix, AZ 85069-7100
United States
602-543-8133 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://lsprg.asu.edu

Douglas J. Sylvester (Contact Author)

Arizona State University - College of Law ( email )

Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States

Michael J. Saks

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ( email )

Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States

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