Source: (2002) Philosophy of the Social Sciences. 32(2): 178-205.

The authors propose a conception of national reconciliation based on the building or rebuilding of trust between parties alienated by conflict. It is by no means obvious what reconciliation between large groups of people amounts to in practice or how it should be understood in theory. Lack of conceptual clarity can be illustrated with particular reference to postapartheid South Africa, where reconciliation between whites and blacks was a major goal of the Mandela government and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The authors argue that a conception of reconciliation in terms of trust offers a promising solution to prominent conceptual confusions surrounding the notion of “national reconciliationâ€? or reconciliation between large groups. By emphasizing the centrality of contextually variable trust in viable relationships, the authors accommodate an emphasis on human relationships and attitudes, as stressed by Desmond Tutu. They argue, however, against any simplistic application of purely individualistic or spiritual concepts to large groups and institutional contexts. Author's abstract.