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Trusting trust

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.”

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 blame 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.”

Notes

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.


which world religions get excluded?

Washington Post's blog On Faith: which world religions get excluded?

When I began to become enraptured with Web 2.0 I wanted to find ways to use intelligent, emerging instruments from the semantic web to continually improve findability and search optimization of resources I had gathered over many years, even if my own PC broke down and all my back up systems failed, and my own memory became faulty, or . . . I had hoped that blogging would help me remember where I put things that might someday be useful again.

The catalyst for “Folksonomy: optimizing soul searching” was a question regarding how absent categories impose their presence through their very absence. Faced with closed field category/subcategory options offered by Digg for example, under which I had to place my article, etc I struggled between philosophy or society, finance or economics, environment or politics.

I have also found it enlightening to find under which categories my own Creative Commons blogs, articles, posts and images might appear.

As my own sites grow organically, my categories and parent categories constantly need to be reformulated; new tags added and others deleted or merged. The goal is efficiency and elegance in the ungainly word of “findability” or search engine optimization, potent instruments in the semantic web.

At times I am frustrated by the absence of categories that exclude entire populations and conversations. Recently I came across a site hosted by the Washington Post. In their About page they describe how they use the limitless space of the online world to host a blog entitled “On Faith” which invites “intelligent, informed, eclectic, respectful,fruitful, intriguing and constructive conversation-among specialists and generalists about the things that matter most, religion, the most ancient of forces, the most pervasive yet “least understood topic in global life.”

I read comments and the post from David Grant, a junior at Virginia Tech who commenting on his visit to the Baha’i gardens in Haifa,Israel-Palestine (which has recently been named as an International Heritage Site) remarking on the broad reach of the Baha’i religion. “Where else on Earth could you find a family from the Bible Belt, a pair of South Africans currently working in Japan, and a crew of Peruvians all heading to say their prayers at the same spot?”

I wanted to search “On Faith” for more strings on the Baha’i but realized that Baha’i World Faith was not offered in their pop-up menu of “List Posts by Topics” which did include: Anglican, Atheist/Agnostic, Buddhist, Catholic, Christian, Earth-based Spirituality, Eastern Orthodox, Episcopal, Evangelical, Greek Orthodox, Hindu, Jewish, Mainline Protestant, Mormon, Muslim, Native American religion, Protestant, Quaker, Sikh, Taoist, Wiccan.

As of February 2008 there were 5,000,000 Baha’is in the world and 159,692 Baha’is in the United States. I couldn’t find a figure for either Taoist or Wiccans but one site at least claimed that in 2001 there were c. 34,000 Wiccans in the US.

Baha’is promote tolerance and moderation and are anxiously concerned with the social issues of the time in which they live. Baha’is around the globe contribute to civil society at locally, regionally, nationally levels on issues and programs related to World Religion Day, interfaith relations, religious freedom, Race Unity Day, race unity, elimination of prejudice, advancement of women (CEDAW), human rights, among others. Baha’is have offices at United Nations as NGO are are prominent in international forums as invited participants acknowledged for civil moderate behaviour in the most volatile situations. Recently the U.S. Bahá’í U.N. representative Jeffery Huffines received a Friendship Award for his work “promoting cultural understanding throughout the world and at the UN Headquarters” and for serving as a “positive, guiding force” to all. It is surprising that Baha’is seem to be largely absent from this forum.

The categories offered under “List Posts by Topics” are confusing since some are parent categories for the others. The Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants and Evangelical are all followers of Christ and are all therefore Christians. Which discussions take place solely under the name of Anglican, Mainline Protestants and Episcopal? In terms of the semantic web it would be far more useful to provide a theme-based “List of Topics” that is inclusive of all the groups and religions mentioned. Tags could be used to facilitate searches for a Quaker, Sikh or Baha’i or Catholic perspective, for example. I would recommend that the blog architects revisit and update their taxonomy using principles of folksonomy: what users do with words.

Years of working with research materials leads to a way of thinking with categories, subcategories; key words (tags); abstracts, descriptions, key concepts, timelines, references in .eml or similar formats. The semantic web revs up that process with powerful tools. So my blogs are always a work in progress, process works.

My own personal blogs are experimental and while I am very conscientious about what is here, I can claim no professional authority in any one field.

At this time in my life I feel as if I live outside linear time. Blog stats soar up suddenly for no apparent reason on a blog posted weeks or month ago. So I tidy it up a little. Then the graph drops sharply again with no apparent reason. I don’t need to try to control it.

Outside linear time, I could just pick up threads begun months ago on Milton Friedman, the social history of Inuit, media objectivity or what we do in the name of such concepts as “memory work” or “everyday life.” Through creative commons I could share all my teaching, learning and research resources without having to shorten them, tidy them up or make them ready for someone else’s deadline. Take what you need and leave the rest. I would still work as hard as I could to maintain my own standards particularly in investigating , acknowledging and referencing sources of information, images, etc.

As I am creating, writing, coding, snurling, twittering, blogging, and uploading to wikipedia, social bookmark accounts, my blogs or others’ etc I have absolutely no trust in anyone.

I post knowing that anything I have shared can be misinterpreted, misunderstood, misread. It can be rejected, ignored, criticized. It can be copied and pasted without my name attached. I license all my work under the Creative Commons License 3.0 SA-NC-BY but I know it cannot be enforced in most cases.

So why bother?

What I do is not based on my need to trust others in cyberspace. I do not feel as though I am an embodied link in an embodied network in linear time and space.

This is even more than that. If I use the semantic web effectively, a searcher who is not “now” from a geographic location that is not “here” can still find my arrows, my markers, hotwords and icons, index-mouse-clicks that might just help them a little in their search. Maybe I will be that searcher.

It is more important to me to work hard at providing information that is not misinformation, trying hard to be as close to the truth as is possible, to use the most powerful arguments from the most reliable texts available to me at any given time.

I am not an anthropologist nor a journalist; I am definitely not a churnalist. My responsibility to me and therefore to others in this network or not, is to post that which I believe to be useful in a way that allows others to follow a trail of truth claims should they choose.

Thirteen years ago Francis Fukuyama in Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity (1995) questioned predictions that the Internet, the computer to computer communication network, unleashed from restrictions imposed by its creator, the Department of Defense, would herald a new organizational network constituted by small firms and individuals that would prove to be superior to large, hierarchical corporations and anarchical market relationships (Fukuyama 1995:195). Fukuyama argued that network efficiency depended on reciprocal moral judgment [1], “a high level of trust and the existence of shared norms and ethical behaviour between network members (Fukuyama 1995:195).” He contrasted the necessity of that network users share social responsibilities and obligations with hackers and other users who were “free spirits hostile to any form of authority . . . vulnerable to certain forms of normlessness and asocial behaviour.”

Fukuyama furthered argued that the Internet is a community of shared values using the concept similar to Shumpei Kumon’s notion of “consensus/inducement-based exchange.” He felt that Internet users in the 1970s and 1980s (mainly government and academic researchers) internalized unquestioned shared values. The Internet could be kept low-cost if users respected certain ethical standards.

In 1994 two lawyers broke the Internet’s code of ethics and bombarded news groups with advertisements for their services (Fukuyama 1995:196). The lawyers were not breaking any written laws and were not shamed into retreat. However, the sheer quantity of hate mail they receive, forced their server shut down.

Although the monitization of all things Internet is well underway, there is also exponential growth in cyberworld capital [2] which like cultural capital or academic capital can facilitate access to certain privileges. I am aware of ways in which users of social networking sites strategize to optimize search engine findability, to increase their hits, statistics, and cyberworld capital.

I am not certain if the success in accumulating cyberworld capital or monitizing all things Internet is made more efficient by trust?

Notes

1. Fukuyama compares network as community concept to the Japanese concept of keiretsu and its western reincarnation in American conglomerates like Gulf + West + ITT. keiretsu depends on a high level of trust.

2. Some measure cyberworld capital in terms such as “authority” as with Technorati. Others self-identify as A1bloggers.