Indeterminacy and Society

Princeton University Press
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In simple action theory, when people choose between courses of action, they know what the outcome will be. When an individual is making a choice "against nature," such as switching on a light, that assumption may hold true. But in strategic interaction outcomes, indeterminacy is pervasive and often intractable. Whether one is choosing for oneself or making a choice about a policy matter, it is usually possible only to make a guess about the outcome, one based on anticipating what other actors will do. In this book Russell Hardin asserts, in his characteristically clear and uncompromising prose, "Indeterminacy in contexts of strategic interaction . . . Is an issue that is constantly swept under the rug because it is often disruptive to pristine social theory. But the theory is fake: the indeterminacy is real."

In the course of the book, Hardin thus outlines the various ways in which theorists from Hobbes to Rawls have gone wrong in denying or ignoring indeterminacy, and suggests how social theories would be enhanced--and how certain problems could be resolved effectively or successfully--if they assumed from the beginning that indeterminacy was the normal state of affairs, not the exception. Representing a bold challenge to widely held theoretical assumptions and habits of thought, Indeterminacy and Society will be debated across a range of fields including politics, law, philosophy, economics, and business management.

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About the author

Russell Hardin is Professor of Politics at New York University. He is the author of numerous books including One for All (Princeton), Liberalism, Constitutionalism, and Democracy, and Morality within the Limits of Reason.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Jun 27, 2013
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Pages
192
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ISBN
9781400848966
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Political
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Russell Hardin
In a book that challenges the most widely held ideas of why individuals engage in collective conflict, Russell Hardin offers a timely, crucial explanation of group action in its most destructive forms. Contrary to those observers who attribute group violence to irrationality, primordial instinct, or complex psychology, Hardin uncovers a systematic exploitation of self-interest in the underpinnings of group identification and collective violence. Using examples from Mafia vendettas to ethnic violence in places such as Bosnia and Rwanda, he describes the social and economic circumstances that set this violence into motion. Hardin explains why hatred alone does not necessarily start wars but how leaders cultivate it to mobilize their people. He also reveals the thinking behind the preemptive strikes that contribute to much of the violence between groups, identifies the dangers of "particularist" communitarianism, and argues for government structures to prevent any ethnic or other group from having too much sway.

Exploring conflict between groups such as Serbs and Croats, Hutu and Tutsi, Northern Irish Catholics and Protestants, Hardin vividly illustrates the danger that arises when individual and group interests merge. In these examples, groups of people have been governed by movements that managed to reflect their members' personal interests--mainly by striving for political and economic advances at the expense of other groups and by closing themselves off from society at large. The author concludes that we make a better and safer world if we design our social institutions to facilitate individual efforts to achieve personal goals than if we concentrate on the ethnic political makeup of our respective societies.

Russell Hardin
What does it mean to "trust?" What makes us feel secure enough to place our confidence—even at times our welfare—in the hands of other people? Is it possible to "trust" an institution? What exactly do people mean when they claim to "distrust" their governments? As difficult as it may be to define, trust is essential to the formation and maintenance of a civil society. In Trust and Trustworthiness political scientist Russell Hardin addresses the standard theories of trust and articulates his own new and compelling idea: that much of what we call trust can be best described as "encapsulated interest."

Research into the roles of trust in our society has offered a broad range of often conflicting theories. Some theorists maintain that trust is a social virtue that cannot be reduced to strategic self-interest; others claim that trusting another person is ultimately a rational calculation based on information about that person and his or her incentives and motivations. Hardin argues that we place our trust in persons whom we believe to have strong reasons to act in our best interests. He claims that we are correct when we assume that the main incentive of those whom we trust is to maintain a relationship with us—whether it be for reasons of economic benefit or for love and friendship. Hardin articulates his theory using examples from a broad array of personal and social relationships, paying particular attention to explanations of the development of trusting relationships. He also examines trustworthiness and seeks to understand why people may behave in ways that violate their own self-interest in order to honor commitments they have made to others. The book also draws important distinctions between vernacular uses of "trust" and "trustworthiness," contrasting, for example, the type of trust (or distrust) we place in individuals with the trust we place in institutions

Trust and Trustworthiness represents the culmination of important new research into the roles of trust in our society; it offers a challenging new voice in the current discourse about the origins of cooperative behavior and its consequences for social and civic life.

A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Series on Trust

Russell Hardin
In a book that challenges the most widely held ideas of why individuals engage in collective conflict, Russell Hardin offers a timely, crucial explanation of group action in its most destructive forms. Contrary to those observers who attribute group violence to irrationality, primordial instinct, or complex psychology, Hardin uncovers a systematic exploitation of self-interest in the underpinnings of group identification and collective violence. Using examples from Mafia vendettas to ethnic violence in places such as Bosnia and Rwanda, he describes the social and economic circumstances that set this violence into motion. Hardin explains why hatred alone does not necessarily start wars but how leaders cultivate it to mobilize their people. He also reveals the thinking behind the preemptive strikes that contribute to much of the violence between groups, identifies the dangers of "particularist" communitarianism, and argues for government structures to prevent any ethnic or other group from having too much sway.

Exploring conflict between groups such as Serbs and Croats, Hutu and Tutsi, Northern Irish Catholics and Protestants, Hardin vividly illustrates the danger that arises when individual and group interests merge. In these examples, groups of people have been governed by movements that managed to reflect their members' personal interests--mainly by striving for political and economic advances at the expense of other groups and by closing themselves off from society at large. The author concludes that we make a better and safer world if we design our social institutions to facilitate individual efforts to achieve personal goals than if we concentrate on the ethnic political makeup of our respective societies.

Karen S. Cook
Conventional wisdom holds that trust is essential for cooperation between individuals and institutions—such as community organizations, banks, and local governments. Not necessarily so, according to editors Karen Cook, Margaret Levi, and Russell Hardin. Cooperation thrives under a variety of circum-stances. Whom Can We Trust? examines the conditions that promote or constrain trust and advances our understanding of how cooperation really works.

From interpersonal and intergroup relations to large-scale organizations, Whom Can We Trust? uses empirical research to show that the need for trust and trustworthiness as prerequisites to cooperation varies widely. Part I addresses the sources of group-based trust. One chapter focuses on the assumption—versus the reality—of trust among coethnics in Uganda. Another examines the effects of social-network position on trust and trustworthiness in urban Ghana and rural Kenya. And a third demonstrates how cooperation evolves in groups where reciprocity is the social norm. Part II asks whether there is a causal relationship between institutions and feelings of trust in individuals. What does—and doesn’t—promote trust between doctors and patients in a managed-care setting? How do poverty and mistrust figure into the relations between inner city residents and their local leaders? Part III reveals how institutions and networks create environments for trust and cooperation. Chapters in this section look at trust as credit-worthiness and the history of borrowing and lending in the Anglo-American commercial world; the influence of the perceived legitimacy of local courts in the Philippines on the trust relations between citizens and the government; and the key role of skepticism, not necessarily trust, in a well-developed democratic society.

Whom Can We Trust? unravels the intertwined functions of trust and cooperation in diverse cultural, economic, and social settings. The book provides a bold new way of thinking about how trust develops, the real limitations of trust, and when trust may not even be necessary for forging cooperation.

A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Series on Trust

Karen S. Cook
Some social theorists claim that trust is necessary for the smooth functioning of a democratic society. Yet many recent surveys suggest that trust is on the wane in the United States. Does this foreshadow trouble for the nation? In Cooperation Without Trust? Karen Cook, Russell Hardin, and Margaret Levi argue that a society can function well in the absence of trust. Though trust is a useful element in many kinds of relationships, they contend that mutually beneficial cooperative relationships can take place without it.

Cooperation Without Trust? employs a wide range of examples illustrating how parties use mechanisms other than trust to secure cooperation. Concerns about one’s reputation, for example, could keep a person in a small community from breaching agreements. State enforcement of contracts ensures that business partners need not trust one another in order to trade. Similarly, monitoring worker behavior permits an employer to vest great responsibility in an employee without necessarily trusting that person. Cook, Hardin, and Levi discuss other mechanisms for facilitating cooperation absent trust, such as the self-regulation of professional societies, management compensation schemes, and social capital networks. In fact, the authors argue that a lack of trust—or even outright distrust—may in many circumstances be more beneficial in creating cooperation. Lack of trust motivates people to reduce risks and establish institutions that promote cooperation. A stout distrust of government prompted America’s founding fathers to establish a system in which leaders are highly accountable to their constituents, and in which checks and balances keep the behavior of government officials in line with the public will. Such institutional mechanisms are generally more dependable in securing cooperation than simple faith in the trustworthiness of others.

Cooperation Without Trust? suggests that trust may be a complement to governing institutions, not a substitute for them. Whether or not the decline in trust documented by social surveys actually indicates an erosion of trust in everyday situations, this book argues that society is not in peril. Even if we were a less trusting society, that would not mean we are a less functional one.

A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Series on Trust

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