Trust: Human Nature and the Reconstitution of Social Order

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Fukuyama has argued that there has been a Great Disruption. He spends the remainder of the book trying to show that grounds for hope exist.

Trust by Francis Fukuyama (ebook)

Humpty-Dumpty has had a great fall, and now Mr. Fukuyama proposes to put him together again.

He does so principally by appeal to evolutionary biology. As suggested earlier, he thinks that evolution has implanted social instincts in us. These have evolved, not through group selection, but according to what promoted the inclusive fitness of our ancestors. Readers unfamiliar with this term should read our author's brief reprise of Richard Dawkins's The Selfish Gene, pp. Evolutionary explanations of behavior are all the rage nowadays, but they seem highly speculative in the bad sense. As Mr. Fukuyama recognizes, "It is, of course, both easy and dangerous to draw facile comparisons between animal and human behavior.

Human beings are different from chimpanzees precisely because they do have culture and reason, and can modify their genetically controlled behavior in any number of complex ways" p. Nevertheless, he assures us that findings from primatology do give us insight into politics. Once again, our author states a problem and then passes by untroubled. Again, though, suppose I am mistaken: it has happened.

Evolutionary biology, we shall suppose, succeeds entirely in explaining human behavior and it does show that human beings have social instincts.

ISBN 13: 9780684865775

I confess, though, that I very much doubt that the alleged facts that preferences stem from the limbic system and rational thought from the neocortex will ever be shown to have any relevance for social thought [p. The imagined success of evolutionary explanations of social instincts gives us little grounds for thinking that the Great Disruption is limited in its scope.

If Mr. Fukuyama is correct that there has been a Great Disruption, then whatever the constraints of evolution, they by hypothesis did not prevent some degree of disruption in social capital. If this degree, why not more? Why not enough disruption to create total social chaos? We are left in the dark. Fukuyama, I fear, has a penchant for assertion without evidence. He informs us that "[h]ierarchy is necessary to correct the defects and limitations of spontaneous order" p.

Without legislation in the s, e. In order to come to a reasoned judgment on our author's case for hierarchy, one would need to know in some detail the nature of the universal values only hierarchy can secure. One would also have to have an argument that these values ought to be supported rather than resisted. These our author does not provide. He gives us instead a brief sketch of his version of historical progress pp.

The Great Disruption contains an abundance of material on various areas of social science, and is for this reason worth reading. Fukuyama confuses behaviorism, a school of psychology, with behavioralism, a movement in political science; in any case, William James was not, as our author thinks, a behaviorist p. While the end of history tried to prove the US Republican ideology as the philosophical nec plus ultra, the goal of history, in an Hegelian way, the great disruption tries to prove it as a biological-sociological necessity, to be human is to be a Republican.

Although it is a flawed book, it makes interesting reading to discern fact and fiction in this book, the places where the conclusions and facts just disconnect, it is like unravelling the Da Vinci code. The danger of the book is the indiscriminate use of academic bits and pieces, it gives a veneer of credibility to the whole were it is not always warranted. The basic premise of the book, namely the importance of social capital and the decline thereof since the mid 60's, is something I take as credible, although even Fukuyama admits he cannot really prove it very well.

From the dip in social capital, Fukuyama delves into the fundamentals of human nature to prove that we are moral and will ultimately reconstitute some moral order along conservative party lines, the invisible hand of morality will cause an upward cycle after every downward cycle, hardly a convincing story line.


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What is, however funny about the book is that the academic material presented can just as easily be construed to disprove the republican dogmas. I do think social capital deserves its own capital letter in the Cobb-Douglass function, it would probably de-emphasize the worship of productivity a little bit in economic thought and make economic theory a bit more relevant to the economy.


  • Trust | Book by Francis Fukuyama | Official Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster.
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  • Trust: Human Nature and the Reconstitution of Social Order.
  • Other blind spots for Fukuyama include the role of inequality in the break-down of social capital e;g; in the false statement that it is pride, not injustice, why test persons reject unequal outcomes in 2-player distribution games. Another blind spot for Fukuyama is that he sees only a causal relation one-way between the loss of social capital and demographic decline, not the other way around, from demographic decline to loss of social capital.

    Fukuyama writes with ideological blinders but still puts the main social problem of the 90's and early 21st century on the table, that is why I grant a 2 star to the book. It's Hard to Know What to Think! From Amazon It is quite difficult to me to feel anything but a benign "that's interesting" type of indifference to this book.

    On some things, Fukuyama does rather well. On others, I could not resist the urge to rhetorically ask myself: "Did he really get this published? As others have noted, Fukuyama provides decent factual documentation and analysis to support part 1 of his argument - that the social bonds common to the days of yore have dissipated through time aside from a few contradictions that I'll get to later.

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    So that accounts for the two extant stars. What accounts for the three I decided to withhold? First, and most devestatingly, Fukuyama never makes it clear how this dissipation of 'social capital' can be attributed to the 'information revolution' - the transition from an industrial-based to information-based economy or culture.

    It seems his only strategy is to rule out, curtly and unconvincingly, other variables only to tell us: "Well it couldn't be those, and since the timing is right, so it must be the information revolution. Second, there are an embarassing number of out-and-out contradictions in this book. First, there is the biggie: Fukuyama spends a lot of time telling us that via human nature, the rebuilding of social bonds is endemic and inevitable to humankind.

    Human Nature and the Reconstitution of Social Order

    Then, in the next section, he tells us that we must work dilligently to bring about what he just told us was endemic and inevitable. This is reminiscent of Marx telling us that the revolution was inevitable and that therefore, the workers must be dillegent in ensuring that it comes about. At the same time; Western societies have endured increasing levels of crime, massive changes in fertility and family structure, decreasing levels of trust, and the triumph of individualism over community. Just as the Industrial Revolution brought about momentous changes in society's moral values, a similar Great Disruption in our own time has caused profound changes in our social structure.

    Drawing on the latest sociological data and new theoretical models from fields as diverse as economics and biology, Fukuyama reveals that even though the old order has broken apart, a new social order is already taking shape. Part of human nature, he shows, is the fact that we are all biologically hard wired to forge bonds with one another, creating social cohesion in new and adaptive forms, not only in our neighborhoods but also in our business organizations and family structures.

    Indeed, he suggests, the Great Disruption of the s and s may be giving way to a Great Reconstruction, as Western society weaves a new fabric of social and moral values appropriate to the changed realities of the postindustrial world. The cycle of disruption and reconstruction is a familiar one in human history, and in pointing us toward the future, Francis Fukuyama challenges our assumptions about society and culture and opens up a new world of possibility.