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The Importance of Being Civil by John A. Hall

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CHAPTER 9

The Destruction of Trust

The analysis of trust has become a central focus in contemporary social theory. This is wholly to be welcomed, for it takes but a moment to realize that social life depends on trust. Parents and children habitually rely on each other without much question, with an enormous amount being simply taken for granted. Cooperative relations in general depend on trust, on the expectation that agreements will be honored. One example of this is the agreement to differ, the subject of chapter 1. So civility rests on trust. Accordingly, those who destroy trust must be ranked as enemies of civility. Alexis de Tocqueville’s account of such enemies is unduly neglected given its immense intellectual power. And it matters very ...

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