Paul Miller, ‘Political (Dis)Trust and Fiduciary Government’

Political (Dis)Trust and Fiduciary Government analyzes the relationship between two key ideas in modern political thought: political trust and fiduciary government. The chapter begins by distinguishing ‘thick’ from ‘thin’ variants on the idea of fiduciary government. Thick variants place substantial normative weight on the idea, claiming, for example, that it solves the problem of political authority and provides an independent normative basis for the recognition of specific legal rights. Thin variants make much more modest claims. The author’s own thin account, deployed here, suggests that fiduciary government articulates conditions under which the conduct of government can be understood as truly representative. By comparison with the thin conception of fiduciary government, political trust – understood as a particularized and objective form of trust shown (and withheld) by citizens in public officials – does distinct work. Briefly: it illuminates the political conditions and activity on which fiduciary government depends. That said, the chapter also emphasizes that ideas of fiduciary government and of political trust dovetail: demands of fiduciary government enable public officials to prove trustworthy in ways that promote political trust, while also creating space for constructive forms of political distrust.

Miller, Paul B, Political (Dis)Trust and Fiduciary Government (January 1, 2020) in Paul B Miller and Matthew Harding, eds, Fiduciaries and Trust: Ethics, Politics, Economics and Law (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).

First posted 2021-06-05 14:00:26

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