Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pg. 99: Marek Kohn's "Trust"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Marek Kohn's Trust: Self-Interest and the Common Good.

About the book, from the publisher:
Trust--whether between parents and children, merchants and shoppers, or citizens and their government--lies at the very heart of our relationships, our society, and our everyday lives.

This vividly written compact book reveals how modern thinkers--scientists, social scientists, and philosophers--have shed much light on the nature of trust. Beginning with some fascinating evolutionary puzzles about the origins of trust--for instance, how cooperation can evolve among individuals pursuing their own selfish interests--Marek Kohn incorporates many different perspectives from the fields of science, sociology, economics, and politics, to draw out the wider implications for trust in human society today. The book discusses trust in gods and how people have sought to reinvest this trust as religious faith has diminished; the effect of low social trust on economic development; and the loss of trust between mutually antagonistic communities, each warming itself by the flames of its hostility to the other. He shows how Communism relied on distrust, and devoted much of its energy to seeding it among its subjects, and Liberal democracy is also based on distrust, but in the opposite direction: it is founded upon the suspicion that the powerful will be tempted to abuse their power, and so must be subject to checks and balances. Perhaps most important, he shows that if we understand what makes trust possible, and why it matters, then we will live better lives in a fast-moving, fast-changing, global society.

Following in the footsteps of Oxford's highly popular books Happiness and Emotion, this compact book illuminates a precious and elusive quality that serves as the bedrock of a fulfilling life and the good society.
Watch a brief video of the author explaining why trust--and Trust--is worthwhile.

Read an excerpt from Trust: Self-Interest and the Common Good, and learn more about the book and author at the Oxford University Press webpage and Marek Kohn's website.

Marek Kohn is a fellow in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Sussex and in the Centre for Applied Philosophy, Politics and Ethics at the University of Brighton. His books include Dope Girls: The Birth of the British Drug Underground, As We Know It: Coming to Terms with an Evolved Mind, and A Reason For Everything: Natural Selection and the English Imagination.

The Page 99 Test: Trust.

--Marshal Zeringue