Back to RJ Archive

Trust and the Problem of National Reconciliation

Govier, Trudy
June 4, 2015

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.


Support the cause

We've Been Restoring Justice for More Than 40 Years

Your donation helps Prison Fellowship International repair the harm caused by crime by emphasizing accountability, forgiveness, and making amends for prisoners and those affected by their actions. When victims, offenders, and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results are transformational.

Donate Now