Uncovering the Second Party of Trust

Joe Harris, of Rewriting, opens my eyes to the idea of an imaginary debate. Reflecting on his time in graduate school, Harris describes this somewhat monumental moment, “After reading my essay, my professor evidently agreed that I had won the imaginary debate I had set up, since he made no effort to find fault with my argument or examples” (pg 55). After reading, reviewing, and analyzing another’s work, one takes a unique stand. This stand on the work may be clear-cut or a blend of various perspectives into one. That being said, this stand creates the imaginary debate that Harris describes, against the author’s. However, this tactic is not used for the sake of an argument, but to provoke further discussion and thinking, which essentially is the act of “countering”. I favor the “uncovering values” method of countering because it closely corresponds to views as stated previously.

Giddens argues many concepts in his book, The Consequences of Modernity, however, the argument that caught my eye is the one regarding trust and risk. Giddens discusses the various possibly definitions of trust and then introduces the ideas of Luhmann, who claims, “Trust presupposes awareness of circumstances of risk, whereas confidence does not. Trust and confidence both refer to expectations which can be frustrated or cast down” (pg 31). Giddens seems to agree with Luhmann in the simple sense that when you trust someone, you are accepting the risks that come along with that trust.

However, Giddens failed to acknowledge that trust usually comes in pairs or relationships of some sort. Along with this, Giddens fails to view trust as a two-way street. Yes, you take a risk when you trust someone else, but they are also taking a risk when they reciprocate that act to you. A majority of the time, when we put trust into someone or something, it is another human being, who is equally capable of trusting and “risk-ing”, too. The only time this is not applicable is when we, as human beings, put trust into things, like technology, for example. Essentially, both parties have control of following through with the act of trust and taking and creating risks. The trust and risk in these typical relationships are equal, and therefore should not be weighed so heavily. Giddens or Luhmann who both put lots of thought into the issue never uncovers this valid and important aspect of trust and risk.

6 thoughts on “Uncovering the Second Party of Trust

  1. I also took interest to the concept of the imaginary debate Harris found himself in during grad school. As you mentioned in Harris’s quote, his professor found no fault with his argument and instead of congratulating him he raised the question of, “Why are you spending so much time discussing the work of somebody you seem to think isn’t very bright?”(P. 55). I think this gets back to the uncovering values aspect of countering an author’s work as well because Harris was spending all his time on seizing any contradiction or fault in the writer’s text that he could point out. I think what Harris could’ve done better with his debate would be to come to terms with the text first by identifying its strengths instead of just coming from an almost attacking standpoint.

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  2. In this blog post the author says that Giddens only considered one factor of trust and left out any others that he does not know or doesn’t fit his argument. The author says this by saying, “Giddens failed to acknowledge that trust usually comes in pairs or relationships of some sort.” Not only does Giddens not mention this other part of trust, but he also excludes many other views throughout the entirety of the book. Giddens claims that the four factors of globalization are “The nation-state system, world capitalist economy, world military order, and the international division of labor” (71). Here Giddens fails to recognize culture and ideology as a part of globalization. This is another example of Giddens excluding an argument that does not fit his thoughts. What else is Giddens excluding and do these excluded ideas prove his argument wrong?

    Stephen

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  3. Liz,

    I’m glad that the moment Harris describes, of the futility of tearing another scholar’s work apart, stuck with you. Better to learn that now rather than later. You raise some good points about trust, specifically how even our trust in abstract systems is often still trust in specific people. Can you think of how that alters our understanding of globalization?

    ~DM

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    • In ‘Uncovering the Second Party of Trust’, you bring up an excellent point that ‘trust usually comes in pairs or relationships of some sort.’ I agree Giddens neglected this basic exchange of balanced human behavior. If, however, you were to consider a relationship not on equal grounds or a relationship without mutual respect, how would you interpret a break in trust then? Would you contemplate the balance between trust and risk differently? I had to smirk when I read your comment concerning this reciprocity wasn’t applicable between human beings and technology. Earlier in the day I trusted the printer to work without incident, but was terribly put at risk when the paper jammed and I could not deliver an important report. I like your insight.
      -chris

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  4. I found this chapter intriguing, it gave me a new perspective on how to counter another persons writing. I liked how you quoted this passage “After reading my essay, my professor evidently agreed that I had won the imaginary debate I had set up, since he made no effort to find fault with my argument or examples… Why are you spending so much time discussing the work of somebody you seem to think isn’t very bright?”(P. 55). This chapter taught me that one must understand the point the author is trying to prove before taking a stand against it. Additionally, I liked how you brought Giddens argument about trust and risk in to it. After reading this chapter of Rewriting it is apparent that Giddens leaves out any factors that he does know, or that don’t pertain to his argument.

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  5. Gidden’s elaboration and subsequent reader deconstruction are important here, you find a great spot where Giddens has a hole in his arguments and designs, the one where he forgets that trust is mutual concept. Dimensions and the things beheind something are frequently left out in favor of the abstract, eventually there is a gap between example and the abstract that can undermine the work.

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