Human, All Too Human: Human Fallibility and the Separation of Powers

Research output: Contribution to journalOnline ResourceProfessional

Abstract

[Extract]
Humans are fallible—and this fallibility is the hardest thing for us to grasp. We have limited knowledge—and the limits of our knowledge routinely prevent us from realising just how much we do not know. Our reasoning processes are prone to various forms of distortion and bias—and these distortions and biases often cause us to overlook our own partiality. We are prone to favour familiar people and concepts over the unfamiliar—and our lack of understanding of other viewpoints prevents us from realising the ways in which we marginalise them.

Humans are fallible, but the way our society is structured inevitably means that some humans gain power to make decisions that impact on the lives of others. Constitutional principles such as the rule of law and the separation of powers exist to protect people from the flawed decisions of those in positions of power. However, the officials holding these positions routinely struggle to recognise their own fallibility. It is for this reason that the separation of powers—like other constitutional limits on government—is continually under threat.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAustralian Public Law Blog
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2015

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