Contractual Societies’ Foundation: Formal And Informal Trustworthiness.

There is an undeniable and incomparable value of trustworthiness in any and all contracts. Contracts are nonsensical without the existence of trustworthiness. So basic is trustworthiness that not only contracts but social cooperation and civilization depend on it.

Contracts represent a formalization of the trust between parties for the purpose of reducing uncertainty and the contract itself is a formal agreement about the knowledge that both parties share. It is expected – trusted – that the terms (the common knowledge) of the contract will be faithfully fulfilled and the result will significantly increase the certainty of the outcome. Of course a contract can be catallactic like it is in commerce or it can be of the law. These are likely quite formal.

But equally as important and potent is the value of informal trustworthiness as the foundation of contractual societies. Consider the magnificence of trustworthiness as the hallmark of an ethical society. Indeed, one has to wonder if there can be an ethical society even in relative terms if the level of trustworthiness is questionable.

Societies with different degrees of trustworthiness can and do exist at the same time and even in the same space. For example, the imposition of statism on an ethical society creates conflicting formal and informal types of trustworthiness: 1). the statists perverting formal contracts throughout society and 2). the statists not being held accountable in many of the informal expectations that fall in what can be considered the realm of normal trustworthiness, one obvious example, the lies of politicians.

Yet at the same time, thankfully, a society that operates according to formal and informal trustworthiness breathes contractual life into the productive, and these productive elements advance civilization. The shame in these – the Dark Ages of economics – is the relative deprivation caused by the barbarism of untrustworthiness.

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