Can Rights Undermine Trust? How Institutions Work and why they Fail

Can Rights Undermine Trust? How Institutions Work and why they Fail

Volume 5 Issue 3 ()

A collective life in society is characterized by two constituent elements – rights and trust. In analysing these two elements, it is important to examine the balance existing between them. Despite their contrasting roles in society, the dialectical relationship between rights and trust is best understood when they are viewed as complementary to one another. While a framework of rights is necessary to instil a sense of deserved entitlement in people, what is instrumental for the effective realization of rights is the recognition of such entitlement within groups of individuals; such recognition being factored in by the mutual respect forged by trust. Through the course of this paper, the author seeks to locate this dialectical relationship within societal institutions, examining how the interface between rights and trust serves as a determining factor for the failure or success of these institutions. The paper commences with viewing the importance of rights in the social scenario, highlighting the shift in the paradigm of the language of rights. It then looks at the relevance of the fiduciary component, establishing that trust, unlike rights, is not a legal mandate but rather a moral one which is implicit and not codified, and it is this moral mandate that regulates various social transactions that take place in the absence of rights. The paper culminates with analysing the interface between rights and trust within the framework of institutions such as family and academic institutions, in order to illustrate that how we understand the importance of the balance between the two, is what determines the success or failure of such institutions

Cite as: André Béteille, Can Rights Undermine Trust? How Institutions Work and why they Fail, 5 NUJS L. Rev. 305 (2012)