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Trust: Self-Interest and the Common Good Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 15, 2008

3.5 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, September 15, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"In this wide-ranging book, he addresses religious, scientific, and political claims of authority, contrasting communist countries, which distrust the people, with liberal democracies, based on mistrust of the government. This excellent book is highly recommended for philosophy and social science collections." -- <em>Library Journal</em>


About the Author


<strong>Marek Kohn</strong> is Visiting Research Fellow, School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex and Honorary Faculty Fellow, School of Arts and Architecture, University of Brighton.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (September 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199217912
  • ASIN: B006LWGTQK
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.8 x 5.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,204,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The subject of "Trust" is particularly relevant today especially since in the United States, we are a scant 2 weeks away from a Presidential election at the time this review was written. As I've watched the debates, the issue of trust is foremost on my mind. I continually ask myself, "Is this person telling the truth; can I trust what they are saying."

The world is embroiled in a financial market meltdown the likes of which few of us have ever experienced. Can we trust our governments to use the hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayers money to deftly handle this financial crisis?

And yes, trust is implicit in personal relationships as well. Can you trust your best friend, wife, husband, child?

For these reasons I chose to read the book "Trust. Self-Interest and the Common Good" by Marek Kohn. The author is clearly intelligent and has formulated aome good ideas on this subject. However I felt like I was reading a college textbook the entire time I was reading this slim volume. It has been said that the writing style is "scholarly" and it most definitely is. This is not a book to pick up and expect to enjoy during a brief period of reading. This book requires dedication to read and some real concentration to breakdown the dense and difficult to read paragraphs into chuncks that you can process.

To be honest, I had some disagreements with the book beginning with the very first sentence in the Preface which reads, "Now that agreement has been reached about how humankind can best make a profitable living, with a single economic orthodoxy established around the world, an increasing number of scholars and commentators have turned their attention to the questions of how people can live well." Whew!
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Trust is quite s stunning thing. On one hand, it is a necessary foundation for any society in which inerpersonal transactions are made. On the other, it is a most fragile disposition that often seems to fly in the face of self-interest. How did this social instinct develop in seemingly self-interested organisms? How do we maintain it when the possibility of cheating is always near? Under what conditions does it flourish or flounder?

These are the primary questions on which Marek Kohn expounds in his book Trust: Self-Interest and the Common Good. There is not much original argument in this book; instead, the author does a fair job of surveying the relevant literature from fields as disperate as philosophy, economics, political science and biology. We are introduced to, and think about, various views on trust: from Hobbes and Hume to Dawkins and (Francis) Fukuyama.

While there seems to be no overarching theme to the book, the cloest thing to it is the author's explanation of how trust - a social instinct - can be seen as a strategy of self-interest. Not only is it that one trusts generally only when one has reason to do so (or, negatively, avoids skepticism unless there is reason for it). Also, trust is integral to self-interest by allowing teams and communities to form in which individuals can find strangth in numbers, interacting with others while avoiding the burden of having to watch one's back.

This idea is nothing new, of course. Anyone familiar with group selection theory or Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations is familiar with the arguments that trust may have self-interested roots. Kohn goes on to explore relevant literature on the conditons under which trust is helped and harmed.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Marek Kohn's book, "Trust: Self-Interest and the Common Good," is a nice place to start thinking about the topic of trust. It is far from comprehensive, as it only weighs in at 133 short pages, but presents the reader with some interesting angles concerning trust. It draws from a variety areas, including philosophy, religion, sociology, economics, politics, and technology. It even has a brief discussion of Amazon.com and the trust element involved in customers rating merchandise!

I was able to read this book in a couple of hours, as it is well-written and has a nice flow. Potential readers need to be aware that "Trust" is more of a survey of the topic meant to springboard folks into further exploration of trust, as opposed to an in-depth study. That is not to say that the book is shallow. The author skillfully covers a lot of material in the book's 133 pages.

I particularly found the chapter on trust and politics interesting. Kohn examines the role of trust as it relates to various political systems, using specific examples and even drawing upon the philosophy of thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes. "Trust" certainly gives the reader some things to think about and further study.

Overall, "Trust" is a book that will interest both academics and casual readers. It may not contain anything groundbreaking, but it does provide food for thought in a manner that is organized and easy to read, while at the same time invites further exploration of the role of trust in society.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Short book about trust amongst people, written by academic, yet easy to grasp. Author explores meaning of trust from many different points of view. We first learn about the trust from our families; where as babies we place an unconditional trust in the hands of our parents. With evolution of computers we develop confidence into the experts who build error proof programs we rely on so much. Then there is trust towards God that for some is unattainable. How do we trust our government, politicians, the nation we are part of? Author is exploring various nations - homogenous and diverse and how those societies define the relationship amongst people who live within them; inside and outside of the nation's borders. Many of the theories author mentions in this book I always thought of as game theories, explore how trust can have different outcome(s) based on the level of trust as well as situation. What is amazing is the exploration of language and meaning of language. In some societies such as former socialist countries like East Germany and Czechoslovakia, language can be misleading and often lead to punishment, imprisonment or worse, if misread. Read this book if anything then to learn the real reason why any individual should be trustworthy and trusting - within the limits, of course. This is a great little book; lots of valuable references.
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