Trust and Toleration: Some Issues for Education in a Multicultural Democratic Society

  • Patricia White


Philosophical reflection (Baier, 1986; Bok, 1978; Luhmann, 1979) agrees with commonsense observation on the pervasiveness of trust in human life. In complex societies, whether or not they are pluralist, two forms of trust seem to be widespread. There is trust in institutions, for instance money, the political process, as well as personal trust between individuals, for instance friends and colleagues. And as well as trust there is also distrust. These facts raise a number of questions: what is trust? how is it, for instance, connected to seemingly related notions like expectation and hope? how, if at all, are trust in institutions and personal trust connected? is it possible to distinguish between rational and pathological forms of trust, of both institutions and persons? how might trust of institutions and persons be created and maintained in a pluralist, multicultural society? is distrust always to be seen negatively? is there, for instance, a positive role for distrust in relation to institutions? what is the role of education in promoting trust (and perhaps distrust?) in institutions? can education make people trustworthy and also able rationally to assess when they should trust others?


Personal Relationship Social Trust School Staff Trust Relationship Institutional Trust 
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© Patricia White 1993

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  • Patricia White

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