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Courts lie at one end of a spectrum of triadic conflict processing devices that ranges from go-betweens to mediators to arbitrators to judges. Running across most societies, there appears to be a fundamental logic of calling in a third to assist two persons experiencing a conflict that they cannot resolve for themselves. The perceived fairness of this arrangement is, however, essentially unstable, threatening to dissolve into the perception of the most unfair arrangement of two against one as soon as the third party proposes a resolution that appears to favor one of the two conflicting parties. One may capture the institutional dynamic of courts in terms of efforts to establish the triad and fend off perceptions of two against one.

Triadic Spectrum and Conflict Processing: From ...
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