The Problem of Trust

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Princeton University Press, Mar 5, 2000 - Philosophy - 240 pages

The problem of trust in social relationships was central to the emergence of the modern form of civil society and much discussed by social and political philosophers of the early modern period. Over the past few years, in response to the profound changes associated with postmodernity, trust has returned to the attention of political scientists, sociologists, economists, and public policy analysts. In this sequel to his widely admired book, The Idea of Civil Society, Adam Seligman analyzes trust as a fundamental issue of our present social relationships. Setting his discussion in historical and intellectual context, Seligman asks whether trust--which many contemporary critics, from Robert Putnam through Francis Fukuyama, identify as essential in creating a cohesive society--can continue to serve this vital role.

Seligman traverses a wide range of examples, from the minutiae of everyday manners to central problems of political and economic life, showing throughout how civility and trust are being displaced in contemporary life by new "external' system constraints inimical to the development of trust. Disturbingly, Seligman shows that trust is losing its unifying power precisely because the individual, long assumed to be the ultimate repository of rights and values, is being reduced to a sum of group identities and an abstract matrix of rules. The irony for Seligman is that, in becoming postmodern, we seem to be moving backward to a premodern condition in which group sanctions rather than trust are the basis of group life.

 

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Contents

THE PROBLEM OF TRUST
11
Trust Role Segmentation and Modernity
13
Agency Civility and the Paradox of Solidarity
44
Trust and Generalized Exchange
75
THE REPRESENTATION OF TRUST AND THE PRIVATE SPHERE
101
Public and Private in Political Thought Rousseau Smith and Some Contemporaries
103
The Individual the Rise of Conscience and the Private Sphere A Historical Interpretation of Agency and Strong Evaluations
124
Spheres of Value and the Dilemma of Modernity
147
Conclusion
169
Notes
177
Bibliography
207
Index
225
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Page 3 - the right to a modicum of economic welfare and security [and the] right to share to the full in the social heritage, and to live the life of a civilized being according to the standards prevailing in society.
Page 3 - between the political, civil, and social aspects of citizenship which he defined as follows: "The civil element is composed of the rights necessary for individual freedom—liberty of person, freedom of speech, thought and faith, the right to own property and to conclude valid contracts, and the right to justice [that is] the right to defend and assert all one's rights on
Page 3 - of equality with others and by due process of law." The political element comprises "the right to participate in the exercise of political power as a member of the body invested with political authority or as an elector of the members of such body.

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About the author (2000)

Adam B. Seligman is Associate Professor in the Department of Religion and Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Economic Culture at Boston University. His previous books include The Idea of Civil Society (Princeton) and Innerworldly Individualism: Charismatic Community and Its Institutionalization.

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