Can trust be restored by making people and institutions more accountable? Or do complex systems of accountability and control damage trust? Onora O'Neill challenges current approaches, investigates sources of deception in our society and re-examines questions of press freedom. This year's Reith Lectures present a philosopher's view of trust and deception and ask whether anCan trust be restored by making people and institutions more accountable? Or do complex systems of accountability and control damage trust? Onora O'Neill challenges current approaches, investigates sources of deception in our society and re-examines questions of press freedom. This year's Reith Lectures present a philosopher's view of trust and deception and ask whether and how trust can be restored in modern democracy....
|Title||:||A Question of Trust|
|Number of Pages||:||108 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
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A Question of Trust Reviews
I read the five lectures, found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/print/radio4/reith2002/. TED talk on same topic: http://www.ted.com/talks/onora_o_neill_what_we_don_t_understand_about_trust.htmlAll the text I highlighted:Spreading Suspicion - Lecture 1Confucius told his disciple Tsze-kung that three things are needed for government: weapons, food and trust. If a ruler can't hold on to all three, he should give up the weapons first and the food next. Trust should be guarded to the end: "without trust we cannot stand"The sociologist Niklas Luhman was right that 'A complete absence of trust would prevent [one] even getting up in the morning.'trust is needed precisely because all guarantees are incomplete. Guarantees are useless unless they lead to a trusted source, and a regress of guarantees is no better for being longer unless it ends in a trusted source.The evidence suggests that we still constantly place trust in many of the institutions and professions that we profess to not to trust.Unless we take account of the good news of trustworthiness as well as the bad news of untrustworthiness, we won't know whether we have a crisis of trust or only a culture of suspicion. In my view it isn't surprising that if we persist in viewing good news as no news at all, we end up viewing no news at all as good news.transparency, which has marginalised the more basic and important obligation not to deceive.Perhaps the culture of accountability that we are relentlessly building for ourselves actually damages trust rather than supporting it.Trust and Terror - Lecture 2Samuel Johnson put it this way: "It is happier to be sometimes cheated than not to trust".Trust is needed not because everything is wholly predictable, or wholly guaranteed, but on the contrary because life has to be led without guarantees.we would I believe do better to begin by thinking about what ought to be done and who ought to do it, rather than about what we ought to get. Passive citizens, who wait for others to accord and respect their rights and mistakenly suppose that states alone can do so, are, I think, doomed to disappointment. Active citizens who meet their duties thereby secure one another's rights.So let me begin with the classic Kantian thought: we are all moral equals. Nowadays this thought is usually followed up quickly with the claim that we therefore all have equal rights. But for Kant the deeper implication is that we all have equal duties. No competent person, and none of the institutions that human beings construct, is exempt from fundamental duties.In the wake of terror, trust spirals downwards. Its restoration is the hardest of political and civic tasks: but not a task that states can handle alone. The passive culture of human rights suggests that we can sit back and wait for others to deliver our entitlements. I suggest that if we really want human rights we have to act and to meet our duties to one another.Called to Account - Lecture 3Growing mistrust would be a reasonable response to growing untrustworthiness: but the evidence that people or institutions are less trustworthy is elusive.In fact I think there isn't even very good evidence that we trust less. There is good evidence that we say we trust less: we tell the pollsters, they tell the media, and the news that we say we do not trust is then put into circulation. But saying repeatedly that we don't trust no more shows that we trust less, than an echo shows the truth of the echoed words; still less does it show that others are less trustworthy.Could our actions provide better evidence than our words and show that we do indeed trust less than we used to? Curiously I think that our action often provides evidence that we still trust.The supposed 'crisis of trust' may be more a matter of what we tell inquisitive pollsters than of any active refusal of trust, let alone of conclusive evidence of reduced trustworthiness. The supposed 'crisis of trust' is, I think, first and foremost a culture of suspicion.Central planning may have failed in the former Soviet Union but it is alive and well in Britain today. The new accountability culture aims at ever more perfect administrative control of institutional and professional life.complaint procedures are so burdensome that avoiding complaints, including ill-founded complaints, becomes a central institutional goal in its own right.In theory again the new culture of accountability and audit makes professionals and institutions more accountable for good performance. But beneath this admirable rhetoric the real focus is on performance indicators chosen for ease of measurement and control rather than because they measure accurately what the quality of performance is. MostPerverse incentives are real incentives.In the end, the new culture of accountability provides incentives for arbitrary and unprofessional choices.In the New World of accountability, conscientious professionals often find that the public claim to mistrust them-but the public still demand their services. Claims of mistrust are poor reward for meeting requirements that allegedly embody higher standards of public accountability.professionals and institutions doing trustworthy work today may find that the public say that they do not trust them-- but (unlike Cassandra) their services are still demanded.Serious and effective accountability, I believe, needs to concentrate on good governance, on obligations to tell the truth and needs to seek intelligent accountability. I think it has to fantasise much less about Herculean micro-management by means of performance indicators or total transparency. If we want a culture of public service, professionals and public servants must in the end be free to serve the public rather than their paymasters.Trust and Transparency - Lecture 4Reasonably placed trust requires not only information about the proposals or undertakings that others put forward, but also information about those who put them forward.Openness or transparency is now all too easy: if they can produce or restore trust, trust should surely be within our grasp.Some sorts of openness and transparency may be bad for trust.Increasing transparency can produce a flood of unsorted information and misinformation that provides little but confusion unless it can be sorted and assessed.Increasing transparency can produce a flood of unsorted information and misinformation that provides little but confusion unless it can be sorted and assessed. It may add to uncertainty rather than to trust.Demands for universal transparency are likely to encourage the evasions, hypocrisies and half-truths that we usually refer to as 'political correctness', but which might more forthrightly be called either self-censorship or deception.We place and refuse trust not because we have torrents of information (more is not always better), but because we can trace specific bits of information and specific undertakings to particular sources on whose veracity and reliability we can run some checks. Well-placed trust grows out of active inquiry rather than blind acceptanceSo if we want a society in which placing trust is feasible we need to look for ways in which we can actively check one another's claims.There are no guarantees. But informed consent can provide a basis for trust provided that those who are to consent are not offered a flood of uncheckable information, but rather information whose accuracy they can check and assess for themselves. This is demanding.Capacities for testing others' credibility and reliability often fail and falter. Sometimes they falter because the information provided is too arcane and obscure. But sometimes they fail because those asked to consent cannot check and test the information they are offered, so can't work out whether they are being deceived, or whether they can reasonably place their trust.Licence to Deceive - Lecture 5The new information technologies are ideal for spreading reliable information, but they dislocate our ordinary ways of judging one another's claims and deciding where to place our trust.Informed consent is therefore always important, but it isn't the basis of trust. On the contrary, it presupposes and expresses trust, which we must already place to assess the information we're given.When we draw on friendly-- or on expert-- help we ultimately have to judge for ourselves where to place our trust. To do this we need to find trustworthy information. This can be dauntingly hard in a world of one-way communication.Today information is abundant, but it's often mixed with misinformation and a little spice of disinformation.we need to focus less on grandiose ideals of transparency and rather more on limiting deception.I think we may undermine professional performance and standards in public life by excessive regulation, and that we may condone and even encourage deception in our zeal for transparency.A free press can be and should be an accountable press.A free press is not an unconditional good. It is good because and insofar as it helps the public to explore and test opinions and to judge for themselves whom and what to believe.The press are skilled at making material accessible, but erratic about making it assessable.Only if we build a public culture-and especially a media culture-in which we can rely more on others not to deceive us, will we be able to judge whom and what we can reasonably trust.To restore trust we need not only trustworthy persons and institutions, but also assessable reasons for trusting and mistrusting
O´Neil brings up a topic to become the centre of the discussion as we are headed to a kind of accountability overdose, which has the potential to ultimately undermining trust.