Review of Sovereignty’s Promise: The State as Fiduciary by Evan Fox-Decent [Book Review]

Ethics 123 (1):150-4 (2012)

Authors
Matthew J. Lister
Deakin University
Abstract
In Sovereignty’s Promise: The State as Fiduciary, Evan Fox-Decent uses the idea of fiduciary relationships to explain the legitimate exercise of governmental authority. He makes use of the idea of the state as a fiduciary for the people to ground an account of the duty to obey the law, to explain the proper relationships between colonial (or “settler”) societies and aboriginal populations, the role of agency discretion and judicial review in the administrative state, the rule of law, the relationship between law and morality, and the foundations of human rights. While I was not convinced by several of the arguments, the book does have many important virtues. In particular, it provides a clear discussion of the idea of fiduciary relationships and duties that is useful for, and should be largely accessible to, non-lawyers. And, though I do not think that Fox-Decent has established all that he hoped to in the book, he does a good job of showing how fiduciary relationships are relevant to the above issues and worth considering.
Keywords Sovereignty  Rule of Law  legal theory  fiduciary duties  legitimacy  Human rights
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