Trust, gentle nudge, and perverse effects
Is trust an inherently moral gift?
Is there a circular relationship between trust and ethics?
Do trust and ethics exhibit the same ambivalent and co-obligatory character of the gift?
Do they constitute the foundation of the social bond?
Is it possible to alter their relationship by modifying the perception that social actors have of them?
How has trust changed in the transition from modernity to post-modernity?
How does it change in moments of crisis?
Starting from the epistemological assumption that progress in the social sciences is determined by a theoretical shift produced by "a reformulation of metaphysical assumptions" and conjugating this path with the relational perspective, according to which "not the facts, but the relationship between the facts is what calls for analysis" I examined the definitions, meanings, functions and relationships between trust and ethics. Following the logical-theoretical method, I have tried to show that trust and ethical behavior are particular forms of gift and co-equal, putting themselves at the foundation of social relations.
Being particular forms of gift, ethics and trust have an ambivalent nature and their circle can produce functional or dysfunctional outcomes that depend on the ability of social systems to modify collective perceptions through correct and balanced forms of communication. Mistrust is, however, an unavoidable element and, paradoxically, preparatory to the restoration of the circle of trust.
Finally, there is a process that does not exhaust the relational circle between gift, trust and ethics, but shifts its activity in a contingent way, determining virtuous or perverse effects: ethical behaviors can determine social disasters; incorrect actions can generate unforeseen positive effects.
Such outcomes negate any attempt by functionalist paradigms to be able to engineer and optimize the performance of trust.