Trust as a Critical Concept

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    In this articlei I will argue that trust is a fundamental and critical concept because trust is the direct or transcendental constitutive ground of most social phenomena, as well as applicable as an operational method in critical theory. There are two different but overlapping positions on trust I address in this article. One is the standpoint we find in business strategy, that trust is naïve to show, and control or contracts are presumed better. In the strategy game the idealistic good guys seems to lose (Arrow 1974), (Williamson 1975). The other position is the position taken by systems theory where trust is treated as if it was a value-neutral system-internal decision, which presupposes that trust and mistrust are symmetrically interrelated functionally (Luhmann 1979). In his early book Trust and Power, Niklas Luhmann seems to agree with the vision guiding my general argument that there is a need for clear directions and specifications in organisations and systems as to whether trust or distrust is appropriate and rational (Luhmann 1979:93). Yet I challenge these positions described above with an alternative understanding inspired by Jürgen Habermas which can be applied as an operational strategy for analyzing trust in its' empirical and social distribution, without ignoring the questions of validity in real social settings where trust is actively playing a direct or indirect constitutional role in the foundation of most interactions, organisations, institutions, and societies.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationKøbenhavn
    Number of pages30
    ISBN (Print)8799022400
    Publication statusPublished - 2004

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