February 2, 2011
Trust is “a particular expectation we have with regard to the likely behaviour of others.”
“Trust is our expectation that another person (or institution) will perform actions that are beneficial or at least not detrimental to us, regardless of our capacity to monitor those actions.”
Fundamentally conversations on trust take place within a framework of social capital and/or social cohesion.
Trust in a habitable, provisional space allows for the unfolding of social events by social actors in everyday life.
When we trust (a social actor) a person, or a thing, does that imply that we think we can predict future performance and/or behaviour based on what we assume we know about them? But how can this exist in a world of constant change? The light bulb burns out, the road is now covered with black ice, the bank suddenly changes its mortgage rate, the co-worker is fearful of losing his job, the company has been bought out, stock values are dropping, the product you always buy has been recalled, the food in your everyday diet has been found to put you at risk, you witness a friend behaving out of character, you experience betrayal.
In whom and what do we, can we and should we trust?
Can we lie to ourselves? Can we trust ourselves?
In narrating our lives, our inner monologue, we try to understand and organize in the present moment that which we we have experienced and thought in the past. In that way potential patterns emerge about what we trust might happen in the future. But when we review these thoughts and events in the light of more recent and legitimate thoughts and interpretations we realize that anticipated patterns are no longer robust. Data sets have changed. New patterns of potential future behaviour emerge. We nurture new habits to integrate these new more beneficial behaviours. By acknowledging the other in one’s life and the limitations of our own understanding of reality, we engage in conversations of conflicting yet enmeshed ideas, interpretations, projects and ultimately, values. As we encounter others whose ethics resonate with ours while introducing something new, better, we can gradually and purposefully adopt and adapt new habits and change ourselves.
Derrida suggested that humans have always had the choice of belief. There is an unending oscillation between absolute abandonment, despair and trust in God. Humans can constantly blaim or rebuke God or take responsibility for the consequences of their own actions.
See Ricoeur and Derrida.
1759 Adam Smith in The Theory of Moral Sentiments:
“How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it. Of this kind is pity or compassion, the emotion which we feel for the misery of others, when we either see it, or are made to conceive it in a very lively manner. That we often derive sorrow from the sorrow of others, is a matter of fact too obvious to require any instances to prove it; for this sentiment, like all the other original passions of human nature, is by no means confined to the virtuous and humane, though they perhaps may feel it with the most exquisite sensibility. The greatest ruffian, the most hardened violator of the laws of society, is not altogether without it.”
Smith writes (6th ed. p. 350):
… In spite of their natural selfishness and rapacity, though they mean only their own conveniency, though the sole end which they propose … be the gratification of their own vain and insatiable desires, they divide with the poor the produce of all their improvements. They are led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of life, which would have been made, had the earth been divided into equal portions among all its inhabitants, and thus without intending it, without knowing it, advance the interest of the society (Adam Smith in The Theory of Moral Sentiments).
1800 [Entrepreneurship] was shaped by culture and delivered in trust. Trust was at the base of business activity and it was ultimately formed and informed by religo-spiritual beliefs and tradition (Capaldi 2005:339 citing J.B. Say c.1800).
1816-10-28 Hegel argued that he had dedicated his life to science “and it is a true joy to me to find myself again in this place where I may, in a higher measure and more extensive circle, work with others in the interests of the higher sciences, and help to direct your way therein. [I ask that you] bring with you a trust in science and a trust in yourselves.
1916 The term social capital first appeared in the context of academic debates on the decline of American cities and close-knit neighbourhoods (Capaldi 2005:339)
Wittgenstein (On Certainty) remarked on trust and foundational propositions. Primitive or elementary faith is hasty but excusable for without it one would be incapable of learning and engaging in language games. see also http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Lang/LangOrba.htm http://cp.unitingchurch.org.au/if_it_be_your_will.pdf
Popper in the Logic of Scientific Discovery argued that the critereon for propositions that belong to the empirical sciences is that they are capable of being falsified by evidence.
1962 Joan Robinson (Economic Philosophy 1962:146) claimed that solutions offered by economists to the moral and metaphysical problems are as ‘delusory as those of the theologians they replaced (Economic Philosophy 1962:146).” She called for an ideology based on more than monetary values (Capaldi 2005:4). In her chapter entitled “Metaphysics, Morals and Science” Robinson (1962) argued that we enjoyed ontological certitude prior to the Freud’s who exposed us to our propensity to rationalization and Marx showing us how our ideas spring from ideologies.
1977 Glenn Loury used the term social capital to describe sources of certain kinds of income disparities (Capaldi 2005:339).
Pierre Bourdieu described it as one of the forms of capital that held account for individual achievement (Capaldi 2005:339).
Chicago sociologist, James Coleman, employed the term social capital throughout his opus of contributions (Capaldi 2005:339).
1985 The World Bank (1985:29) defines social capital as “the norms and social relations embedded in social structures that enable people to coordinate action to achieve desired goals (Capaldi 2005:339 citing J.B. Say c.1800).
Nan Lin published a trilogy on social capital: theory of social structures and action; theory and research; and foundations of social capital. Social capital is entrenched in popular parlance (Capaldi 2005:339).
1993 Hugh Laurie starred as a conman, Leo Hopkins, who charmed then ruined the lives of his elderly parents, wife, family, friends and strangers (and his prison cellmate) out of millions of dollars in Britain’s ITV network drama entitled All or Nothing at All. Even when he warned others of his untrustworthiness, they trusted him with their careers, lives and money.
2000 Trust is grouped along with personal connections and a sense of community as contributing to social capital in thriving organizations (Don Cohen and Laurence Prusak In Good Company (2001). Social capital which involves the social elements that contribute to knowledge sharing, innovation and high productivity upon which business and corporate life depend (Capaldi 2005:339 citing J.B. Say c.1800).
2000 Trust is “a particular expectation we have with regard to the likely behaviour of others (Gambetta 2000).”
2005 (Capaldi:339) argued for the need for a spiritual capital which is closely connected to on-going debates on trust, corruption, governance, sustainability and entrepreneurship. An investigation of spiritual capital would consider: The role and scope of personal religious ethics on private economic decisions; the exegetical, economic and historical roots and traditions which give rise to contrasting work ethics and economic systems; the role of societal institutions based on faith ranging (companies, trade unions, political parties, NGOs, intermediating structures); interpretations and practices concerning interest, inflation, growth, government authority, charity, trade in various spiritual worldviews; impact of religion on conduct and rules as employees, employers, consumers, producers, citizens (Capaldi 2005:342).
2005 Daniel Yankelovich, co-founder of the Public Agenda Foundation claimed people are developing a new spiritual search because of a lack of trust in business leaders. 87% of the population believes that there is a decline in social morality.
2012 Sapienza and Zingales’s article in the International Review of Finance argue “that the changes in economic activity from late 2008 to early 2009 is due to a drop in trust. We present new survey evidence consistent with this hypothesis.”
Bibliography and webliography
Capaldi, Nicholas. 2005. Business and religion: a clash of civilizations? M & M Scrivener Press.
Abstract: “Since the late 1960s American culture has been involved in a struggle to articulate an effective business ethics. The scandals of Enron and WorldCom constitute egregious examples of the absence or deficiency of ethical decision-making in matters of commerce. The purpose of this volume is to inaugurate a dialogue on the common elements of all three Abrahamic traditions – Christianity, Islam, and Judaism – that touch on ethical issues in business. With scholars, religious and business leaders joining the debate, this anthology is the beginning of a reconstruction of the understanding of the relationship between religion and commerce. Main Features: The following questions are addressed: Is a purely secular business ethics irremediably deficient? Does a substantive business ethic require a religious and spiritual framework? To what extent does current business practice reflect a spiritual dimension? What are the various religious traditions’ perspectives on the ethics of commerce? Can the various religious traditions generate a non-adversarial, consistent, and coherent business ethic? Is there a role for religion and spirituality in a global and post-modern business world?” Nicholas Capaldi is the Distinguished Chair of Business Ethics at Loyola University in New Orleans where he also serves as the Director of the National Institute for Business Ethics.
Gambetta, Diego. 2000. “Can We Trust Trust?”, in Gambetta, Diego (ed.) Trust: Making and Breaking Cooperative Relations, University of Oxford, 213‐237.
Sapienza, Paola; Zingales,Luigi. 2012. A Trust Crisis. International Review of Finance. 12: 123–131. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2443.2012.01152.x
“We conjecture that the changes in economic activity from late 2008 to early 2009 is due to a drop in trust. We present new survey evidence consistent with this hypothesis.”
Paul Ricoeur, wide-ranging thinkers in the twentieth century, a contemporary continental philosopher whose work on existentialism and phenomenology to psychoanalysis, politics, religion and the theory of language, have an enduring quality. One of the areas he investigated was the role of imagination, testimony, and trust which is a chapter in the book by Ricoeur entitled On Paul Ricoeur: the Owl of Minerva by Richard Kearney
nurturing authentic relationships of mutual respect between self and the other-I.
Filed in Tag Clouds
Tags: business ethic, crisis in certitude, crisis in democracy, crisis of confidence, empathic civilization, ethical dimension of business, habitable space, heightened empathic sensitivity, Homo Empathicus, Jacques Derrida, Jeremy Rifkin, narratology, ontological certitude, Paul Ricoeur, social actors, social capital, social cohesion, Trust