A reformed European model

Social capital as competitive advantage

Doctoral Thesis / Dissertation, 2000

244 Pages

Free online reading


List of Figures



Part I: Cooperation, Social Capital and Social Integration
1. Social Dilemmas and the Problem of Cooperation
Modelling Social Dilemmas
Solving Social Dilemmas
2. The Moral Foundations of Liberalism
The Evolutionary Approach and the Moral Sense
Limits to the Evolutionary Approach and the Need for Constructivism
Moral Learning and Social Justice
Summary of Moral Sources of Social Capital
3. The Need for Federal Political Institutions
Megalothymia, Amour-Propre and the Need for Political Institutions
Personalism and the Principles of a Federalist Polity
4. Social Capital – Concept, Production, Distribution and Depreciation
The Concept of Social Capital: Its Origins From Karl Marx Onwards
Excurse: The Structure/Agency Problem
Social Order, Cooperation Virtues and Transaction Costs
Production of Social Capital
Distribution of Social Capital
Depreciation of Social Capital
5. Social Integration
Markets, Civil Society, the State and Culture
Social Capital as Precondition to Capitalism and Democracy

Part II: Growth Theory and Empirical Relevance of Social Capital
1. Growth Theory
Growth Theory and Social Capital
2. Previous Empirical Studies and own Approach
3. Description of Variables
4. Results and Interpretation

Part III: How Can We Foster the Accumulation of Social Capital in Europe?
1. The European Model of Society and Third Way Politics
Globalisation and Varieties of Capitalism
Beyond Left and Right
2. The Future of Social Cohesion in Europe - A Counterfactual Scenario
3. Social Policy Actions on the Nation State Level
Social Welfare and Competitiveness
Reform of the Welfare State
The Unemployment Problem
4. Actions at a European Scale
Economic and Monetary Union
European Social Policy
European Anti-Discrimination Measures
European Regional and Cohesion Policy
A Federal Europe

Part IV: An Internationally Cooperative Europe
Global Player EU
Global Governance and the Need for a World State

List of Figures

Figure 1: Prisoner’s Dilemma

Figure 2: Assurance Game

Figure 3: Chicken Game

Figure 4: Moral Sources of Social Capital

Figure 5: Different kinds of social capital

Figure 6: Types of Organisation and Social Capital

Figure 7: The Pyramid of Cooperation

Figure 8: Social Capital as Precondition for Capitalism and Democracy

Figure 9: Social Capital in the Input/Output Process

Figure 10: Structural Equation Model for a Growth Model

Figure 11a/b: Social Capital and Economic Growth 1990-

Figure 12: Varieties of Capitalism

Figure 13: Relationship between Social Protection and Economic Performance

Figure 14: Social and European Integration

Figure 15: Federal State or Confederation?

Figure 16: Typology of the Main Players in World Politics


The idea for this book grew slowly towards the end of my studies for a Lizentiat in economics at the University of Zurich in 1996. There I had to struggle with the supremacy of the allocative efficiency of the market. Which implies translated to politics the privatisation and abolition of the state. Having been already a convinced European since I can remember, I have decided to challenge my self and to start studying European politics at the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium. At that time I have met in two summer schools scholars of personalistic thinking, too. The Bruges experience and the encounter with personalism have left traces. I have completed my Masters in European Politics in 1997 just when the Treaty of Amsterdam was signed. Back at home in Zurich and starting to work at the Sociological Institute of the University of Zurich I was for a while more interested in questions of social development. What is the importance of the social glue for economic growth? Economists think that they can explain everything in the social world with their approach. But might it not be that they are missing some important elements?

During supplementary lectures in political philosophy in Zurich I have learned more about the importance of values and norms. During a research stay at Swisscore in Brussels in May 1998 I have started to integrate the European dimension into my work. There I got in contact with people from the Commission (Cellule de Prospective, DGV, etc.) and from the European Parliament (Institutional Affairs Committee, Social and Employment Committee, etc.). At the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence a year later in May 1999 at another research trip I had the chance to meet some of the most distinguished scholars working on questions of reform of the European welfare state. I also had the occasion to present parts of my work at the Robert Schuman Centre of the EUI in Florence, at the Research Department of the World Bank in Washington, as well as at the European and the combined German, Austrian and Swiss sociological congress.

During most of the time of my work, including a Summer School on advanced quantitative methods, I was financially supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, to whom I own my gratitude. They sponsored a research project on the empirical relevance of social capital for economic growth in the 1990s (under the direction of Prof. Bornschier). I was there research assistant, first for nine months and than during the prolongation for another four months. In between I had a job for seven and a half months as assistant of Prof. Bornschier. Pivotal for my dissertation was, of course, first of all Prof. Bornschier who could be convinced to give support to this transdisciplinary work, including philosophy, sociology, politics and economics. He always supported me in a friendly way despite some periods of differences in opinion. But different impulses are important which I also got especially from Prof. G. Kohler. I think, having completed this project, I have also managed to settle down with a new world view. Other people who have helped me at various points in my work are: Bruno S. Frey, Ian Gough, Otfried Höffe, Elmar Holenstein, Ferdinand Kinsky, Martin Rhodes, Bo Strath, Vesna Thomse, Wolfgang Wessels and Patrick Ziltener. Finally, I should not forget my father who always encouraged me to push ahead with my thesis.

Zurich, September 17, 1999 Michael Leicht


Unemployment, social exclusion and a welfare state which has reached its limits are signs of a deep crisis of our European society. But at the same time we are living in a post-ideological world of politics were the limits of debate are set by arguments about effectiveness in public policy. Important for politics of the ‘radical centre’ is whether there has been a decline in social cohesion and how civil society and politics are interrelated. Thus in a time of deep sea-change of the social fabric and the need for a new political organisation we may learn from Alexis de Tocqueville that the two are only two sides of the same coin:

„In the long run political society is nothing else than the mirror image of civil society.” (von der Gablentz, 1997).

Hence the problems we are facing today demand solutions for which the nation state is not anymore adequate. Solutions must start already at a smaller level and must go often beyond the reach of the nation state. Therefore the need for a ‘reformed European model’. For starting to think about such a reformed model Tocqueville is also a good starting point for other reasons. He saw man as being a social animal living in community.

„La société communale existe chez tous les peuples, quels que soient leurs usages et leurs lois; c’est l’homme qui fait les royaumes et crée les républiques; la commune paraît sortir directment des mains de Dieu (Tocqueville, De la démocratie en Amerique, 1835: S. 1.58; Chapter 5; quoted in a handout of Prof. E. Holenstein, SS 1999, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich).

This means that the natural communities, in which men originally lived, are the starting point for our analysis. Unfortunately, these days we have lost this communitarian view. Society disintegrates into atomised individuals. Hence we need two things: First, a new social science which takes account of people’s conntectedness and relatedness. Therefore we need new intellectual tools which must capture the person in his/her embeddedness and connectedness in his/her community.[1] In part I we will try this by developing the concept of social capital. In part II we will give empirical evidence that this broadening of view is of relevance for economic development and personal well-being. Finally, in part III we will start thinking about how we can change the European polity in order that we will have more social capital in the future. Social capital is a good worthwhile to pursue for its own sake. But it is also of eminent importance to prevent social breakdown on the one hand and on the other hand can it become a crucial competitive advantage in a globalising world economy.

Part I: Cooperation, Social Capital and Social Integration

The major goal of society is to foster mutually beneficial cooperation among its members. Society should integrate. But presently we see more a disintegration, fragmentation and atomisation of our social fabric. Only the individual counts. What gets lost are the necessary connections between people; the connectedness and embeddedness. Persons are embedded in communities. In the following we will try to capture with the concept of ‘social capital’ the major aspects of cooperation and connectedness. On the one hand we will focus on the moral feelings coming from within the person. Norms of justice, trust, civic engagement and tolerance facilitate mutually beneficial cooperation. On the other hand can social structure help to enforce cooperation among people who don’t always behave morally. Moral norms are seen as having evolved evolutionary. For man being dependant on other human beings it seems plausible that an innate moral sense and a genetical predisposition for moral learning will have developed to help humans to live together in fruitful collaboration. By including moral and political motivations and constraints in our analysis we will go a crucial step further than normal libertarians do. They normally restrict their view on rationally maximising individuals, property rights and free markets. We are convinced that it is essential to broaden the view and to go beyond the present day ‘shrink liberalism’. Social connecteddness and embeddedness of persons is crucial for a well integrated society. Working together is easier in a community blessed with a substantial stock of social capital.

We will start this part with the analysis of the problem of cooperation. How does cooperation evolve? Social capital is the crucial cooperation resource. It has a double character. Social capital is a moral resource on the one side, and captures social and political structures which foster cooperation on the other. What are the sources of morality? We will start by looking at the evolutionary and biological base of morality – moral sense theory. Then we will discuss the limits of the evolutionary approach and present some of the most prominent rationalist moral thinkers – Aristotle, Kant, Habermas and Rawls.

Voluntary cooperation based on innate moral rules might not always be successful. But since human beings are different from other animals in the way that they have culture and reason, they can modify their genetically controlled behaviour. This opens the realm of constructivist political intervention. But how should political institutions be organised? The best way for political intervention is when the polity is based on federalist principles. Thus with a view to European institutions we will discuss the philosophy and principles of federalism. Having understood the various moral and institutional sources of social capital we will show the origins of the concept ‘social capital’ in social science literature from Karl Marx onwards. Subsequently we will also discuss production, distribution and depreciation of social capital. To close part I we will show the major elements of social integration and the crucial role social capital plays as precondition to capitalism and democracy.

1. Social Dilemmas and the Problem of Cooperation

The problem of how cooperation among actors can emerge lays at the centre of this study. It is the old problem of the origins of social order and how social cohesion can be sustained. The question of where the cooperative norms, underlying social capital, come from is a question that is in some way coextensive with the field of sociology. But also economics has with game theory a highly developed theory of the origins of cooperative norms. Cooperation occurs when actors adjust their behaviour to the actual or anticipated preferences of others, through a process of coordination so that all sides end up better off than they would otherwise be. Therefore cooperation must be distinguished from harmony of goals and mutuality of interests. Cooperation implies adjustment of goals. But on the other hand cooperation is something different from competition and conflict (zero-sum game) where one wins at the expense of another.

Sometimes the pursuit of self-interest guided by the invisible hand leads to the spontaneous emergence of cooperative systems. These are the benefits of a working market system. Adam Smith asserted in his ‘The Wealth of Nations’ (1776) that the invisible hand of self-interest ‘frequently’ leads men to promote the interests of others.

„Every individual is continually exerting himself to find out the most advantageous employment for whatever capital he can command. It is his own advantage, indeed, and not that of the society which he has in view. But the study of his own advantage naturally, or rather necessarily leads him to prefer that employment which is most advantageous to the society

[Each individual is] led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it.“ (Smith, 1776/1961, I, 475, 477, 478).

His famous canonical example is the one of the Butcher-Brewer-Baker.

„It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect out dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantage.“ (Smith, 1776/1961, I, 18) (quotations from Reisman, 1998).

Economists in modern times have refined this idea into a more precise theorem that can be worded as follows: Given a number of ideal conditions, optimising behaviour on the part of individuals and firms under pure competition leads to an efficient (Pareto-optimal) social outcome (Hirshleifer, 1988: 467).[2] What makes the invisible hand metaphor so powerful is the idea of simultaneous micro and macro realities: the reality in the mind of each individual is not the same as the reality that emerges when many individuals interact. At one level we do A for reason B, while at another level A serves purpose C (de Wall, 1996: 28).[3] The consequence of this thinking is that a beneficent order can be established itself without conscious direction as the unintended consequence of self-love. Such an order is based on spontaneous process (Reisman, 1998: 358).

But the basic problem of cooperation is that the pursuit of self-interest by each leads often to a poor outcome for all. We are therefore in situations where ‘the invisible hand theorem’ of Adam Smith is not working. David Hume gives in his ‘A Treaties on Human Nature’ (1740) a good example for the problem of collective action, and the unfortunately poor outcome for everybody.

„Your corn is ripe today; mine will be so tomorrow. This profitable for us both that I should labour you today, and that you should aid me tomorrow. I have no kindness for you, and know you have as little for me. I will not, therefore, take any pains upon your account; and should I labour with you upon my account, in expectation of a return, I know I should be disappointed, and that I should in vain depend upon your gratitude. Here then I leave you to labour alone; You treat me in the same manner. The seasons change; and both of us lose our harvests for want of mutual confidence and security.“ (cited in Putnam, 1993b)

Although in most situations all parties would be better off were they to cooperate. But in the absence of an overarching authority to enforce appropriate behaviour, clear mechanisms to ensure commitment, or incentives and motivations individuals will tend not take the risks of cooperation. This is the tragedy of the commons, the logic of collective action, public goods, the prisoner’s dilemma. In all these situations everyone would be better off if everyone would cooperate. In the absence of coordination and credible mutual commitment, however, everyone defects. None achieve the gains from cooperation and all are worse off.

Modelling Social Dilemmas

The problem of cooperation and the study of social dilemmas has been formalised in game theory. Social dilemmas are situations in which individual rationality leads to collective irrationality. That is, individually reasonable behaviour leads to a situation in which everyone is worse off than might have been otherwise. All social dilemmas are marked by at least one deficient equilibrium, i.e. there is at least one another outcome in which everyone would be better off (Kollock, 1998: 183, 184). The most severe social dilemmas are characterised by a dominant strategy that leads to a deficient equilibrium. It is the strategy that yields the best result for an individual regardless of what others are doing. This is the case in so called Prisoner’s Dilemma. But besides the Prisoner’s Dilemma there is a whole range of other dilemmas. Two-person social dilemmas (Prisoner’s Dilemma, Assurance, Chicken) and multiple-person social dilemmas (public goods dilemmas and common dilemmas).

In the Prisoner’s dilemma situations the pursuit of self-interest leads to an inferior outcome for everyone. The classic example involves two prisoners who are separately given the choice between testifying against other or keeping silent. Each has two choices, namely cooperate or defect. Each must make the choice without knowing what the other will do. No matter what the other does, defection yields a higher payoff than cooperation. Lacking a confession, the authorities will be able to convict the prisoners only of a minor infraction. With a confession from either, on the other hand, conviction on a major count is guaranteed. Keeping the prisoners out of communication with each other, the district attorney offers to let either of them off for turning state’s evidence - provided that he confesses, while the other does not! The dilemma is that if both defect, both do worse than if both had cooperated.

What defines the Prisoner’s Dilemma in general is the relative value of the four outcomes. The best possible outcome is defecting while one’s partner cooperates (designated DC). The next best outcome is mutual cooperation (CC) followed by mutual defection (DD), with the worst outcomes being the case in which one cooperates while one’s partner defects (CD). Thus, in a Prisoner’s Dilemma, DC > CC> DD > CD. This can be visualised with an ordinal pay-off matrix. In Figure 1, along the left margin the rows show the possible choices of person A: ‘cooperation’ vs. ‘defection’. Across the top are the same choices for person B. Within each cell the ordinal pay-offs in the matrix are the following: the first number indicates A’s pay-off, the second, B’s pay-off. The asterix indicates the dominant equilibrium.[4]

B’s choice of strategy:

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1: Prisoner’s Dilemma

Two other important games can be created by switching the relative value of the outcomes. If mutual cooperation leads to a better outcome than unilateral defection (CC > DC > DD > CD), the situation is known as an Assurance Game. Table 2 gives an example, again with ordinal pay-offs and indication of the dominant equlibria.

B’s choice of strategy:

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 2: Assurance Game

A common misunderstanding is that the Assurance Game presents no dilemma and leads inevitably to mutual cooperation. In fact, cooperation is not always a dominant strategy. If the person believes the partner will defect, the best the person can do is to defect as well. In other words the Assurance Game has two equilibria: mutual cooperation, which is an optimal equilibrium, and mutual defection, which is a deficient equilibrium. The key issue in the Assurance Game is whether we can trust each other. This game has received much less attention than the Prisoner’s Dilemma Game, although it is very often the more accurate model than the Prisoner’s Dilemma of many social dilemma situations.

A third two-persons game is created if mutual defection yields a worse outcome than unilateral cooperation (DC > CC > CD > DD). This is the Chicken Game, named after a famous film scene where two youths drive their cars towards each other (or towards a cliff). The first youth to turn away is ‘chicken’ and loses face, while the other youth basks in the glory of his courage. However, if neither youth turns away, they both end by dying – the worst outcome. If both turn away, the sting of being chicken is not as great since both drivers lost their nerve.

B’s choice of strategy:

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 3: Chicken Game

There are two equilibria in the Chicken Game – unilateral defection and unilateral cooperation. If driving toward each other, you are sure the other person will lose their nerve and swerve, you are best off driving straight ahead, but if you believe the other person will not swerve, you are better of swerving and losing face rather than your life.[5]

Now such social dilemma exist also in cases of more than two persons. Such multiple-person dilemmas are most of the time even more sever. In the case of provision of public goods, an individual is faced with an immediate cost that generates a benefit that is shared by all. The individual has an incentive to avoid the cost, but if all do so each is worse off. In the social trap of the tragedy of the commons the individual is tempted with an immediate benefit that produces a cost shared by all. In the commons dilemmas the problem is the non-excludability of a joint resource, too, but unlike public goods, they are subtractible (i.e. rival consumption). Both types of social dilemmas show externalities, behaviour of a person affecting the situation of other persons without the explicit agreement of that person. They lead to uncompensated interdependencies (Kollock, 1999: 185-191).

Solving Social Dilemmas

Facing the many social dilemma situation in everyday life the evolution of mutually beneficial cooperation is not easy. Thomas Hobbs argued in ‘Leviathan’ (1651) that government is needed to enforce cooperation. And that before governments existed, the state of nature was dominated by the problem of selfish individuals who competed on such ruthless terms that life was „nasty, poor, brutish, and short“. But there are also other ways to foster cooperation.

Generally speaking there are three categories of solutions to social dilemma situations (Kollock, 1999: 192): motivational, strategic and structural solutions. These categories are based on whether the solutions assume egoistic actors and whether the structure of the situation (‘the rules of the game’) can be changed. For this reason, many of these strategic solutions are limited to repeated two-person dilemmas.

Motivational solutions assume that actors are not completely egoistic and give some weight to the outcomes of their partners. Therefore, first of all, social value orientations is important. For us a cooperation orientation is important, i.e. an individual behaves so as to maximise joint outcomes. This will be our main approach followed in this book. How can we motivate people so as to take the interests of others into account as well and find a cooperative solution? Therefore we will show the importance of cooperation values, like justice, trust, civic engagement, and tolerance. But besides this other values orientations are possible: to maximise the relative difference between oneself and the partner/competitor outcome (a competitive orientation), to maximise only the partner’s outcome without regarding one’s own outcome (altruism) or maximising own outcome without any concern for the partner’s outcome (individualism).[6] Most individuals are either cooperators, competitors, or individualists. In this regard the formation of social value orientation becomes important and hence socialisation and education. But more about the formation of cooperation virtues later. Additional further motivations to solve social dilemmas are communication and group identity.

Strategic solutions assume egoistic actors and no change to the structure of the game. They rely on the ability of actors to shape the outcomes and hence behaviour of other actors. Most important is reciprocity. Axelrod (1984) identifies three requirements for the emergence of cooperation. It is important that individuals are involved in an ongoing relationship, they must be able to identify each other, and they must have information about how the other person has behaved in the past. Than, Tit-for-Tat, to cooperate on the first interaction and thereafter simply reciprocate whatever the partner did on the previous round. The effect of Tit-for-That is to transform a repeated Prisoner’s Dilemma Game into a repeated Assurance Game. Playing against an individual using Tit-for-Tat means that the only long-term possibilities are mutual cooperation and mutual defection. In theory there is no hope of exploiting this strategy in any kind of sustained way.

But one weakness of Tit-for-Tat is the danger of getting into counterproductive feud. The other weakness is that no advantage is taken of a ‘sucker’ who is willing to cooperate even when his partner does not. Therefore a variant strategy has been devised, known as ‘Pavlov’, to overcome these drawbacks. In simplified terms, it involves occasional foraying expeditions. If the game has degenerated into a feud, A will initiate a cooperative move, and if B reciprocates, he will continue to cooperate in the following round. If, however, the game has settled down into continuing rounds of cooperation, A will try an occasional defection. If B turns out to be a sucker and still cooperates, A will repeat his defection. Otherwise he will return to co-operation. Thus there will be both more appeasement and more aggression under ‘Pavlov’ than under straightforward ‘Tit-for-Tat’ (Brittan, 1995: 42, 43).

Axelrod (1984: 110-123) gives the following four advises for how to do well in an iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma: a) Don’t be envious. b) Don’t be the first to detect. c) Reciprocate both cooperation and defection. d) Don’t be too clever. The key point in his fourth piece of advice is that it is important for one’s partner to clearly understand what strategy one is using. His first piece of advice is essentially a warning against playing the Prisoner’s Dilemma Game as if it were a zero-sum game. That is a game in which one’s interests are completely opposed to one’s competitors (e.g. chess, competitive sports, mortal combat). In a zero-sum game, using one’s partner as a standard of comparison is useful, as anything that works against one’s competitors necessarily helps oneself. However, trying to beat one’s partner or being envious of their success can lead to trouble in a mixed-motive situation such as the Prisoner’s Dilemma. Trying to beat your partner can be self-defeating if it results in mutual defection. Therefore with Tit-for-Tat you don’t beat your partner but you do well on average, encouraging mutual cooperation. This is a hard lesson to learn for many individuals, since the competitive thinking is so strong in our culture. Very often we only think in terms of zero-sum game, get even into acting like in war and forget the dynamic dimension which most often allows room for mutual benefit.

The choice of partners is another important strategic element. Therefore cooperate on the first interaction and continue until the first defection from one’s partner, at which point it is time to exit the relationship. Whereas some degree of forgiveness (i.e. a willingness to give a partner who had defected before a second chance) is most often even more successful. The strategy used in selecting one’s partner can be more important than the strategy that is used in the actual Prisoner’s Dilemma Game. Therefore it is best to follow an Out-for-That strategy, responding to defection not with defection, but desertation. Finally, in multi-persons games group reciprocity is very important for the emergence of cooperation. The belief in future reciprocal exchange between members moderates the temptation to defect and encourages cooperation.

Structural solutions aim at either modifying the social dilemma situation or at eliminating it all together. Iteration and identifiability helps to reinforce those features that are prerequisites for strategic solutions. Structural solutions might also try to change the fundamental pay-off structure and increase efficacy. In multi-persons dilemma people very often don’t make an effort because they think their contribution is not important and has no effect. If a dilemma situation can be changed in such a way that individuals can have noticeable effect on the outcome – that is they can make an efficacious contribution – cooperation rates can be increased. Sometimes drawing boundaries, reducing the nonexcludability of collective goods, or reducing group size to make sanctioning easier, helps.

Large numbers increase the probability of defection and reduce the feasibility of sanctioning defectors. But on the other hand will a larger number of players be better, since it provides more opportunities for exchanges and side-payments. Another problem of Prisoner’s Dilemma with a large number of people is that the building up of social capital, of trust relations, is difficult. More intimate relations make behaviour more predictable and thus close off some of the fears that create difficulties among strangers. Consider, for example, why individuals in a burning theatre panic and stampede to the door, leading to desperate results. Analysts of collective behaviour long considered this to be prototypically irrational behaviour, but it is essentially N-person Prisoners’ Dilemma: each stampeder is actually being quite rational given the absence of a guarantee that anyone else will walk out calmly, even though all would be better off if everyone did so. However, in the case of the burning house, we never hear that everyone stampeded out and that family members trampled one another. In the family, there is no Prisoner’s Dilemma because each is confident that the others can be counted on (Granovetter, 1985: 490).

Finally, sanctions are important to reward cooperators and punish defectors. Thus even large scale cooperation becomes possible. Sanctioning works best using the ‘donky psychology’ of carrot and stick. Positive reward in case of cooperation and negative ones in case of defection, but always starting with the carrot (Kollock, 1999: 192-206).

When the pursuit of individual rationality leads to collective irrationality we are really facing social dilemma situation. To overcome successfully such dilemma situations as often as possible is the ultimate aim of cooperation. Therefore the motivational orientation and the transformation of incentive structures is important in order to solve social dilemmas. A greater focus on the Assurance Game instead of always trying to capture everything with the Prisoner’s Dilemma, or even worse the zero sum game logic, might be a first step. Assurance Games do not eliminate the challenge of cooperation, but they change our focus in many ways. Trustworthiness, trustfulness, and all related factors become more important. The fundamental flaw of game theoretical answers to social dilemma situations is that they normally don’t take an actors embeddedness in community norms or social value orientation into account. Normally, people are not so totally atomised, rational, selfish utility maximises, like economists assume with their ‘homo oeconomicus’. Human beings enter into economic exchange by bringing with them a host of previously existing social norms that strongly influence their willingness and ability to cooperate. Indeed, there is a lengthy debate associated with Durkheim and Polanyi which argues that market exchanges itself is dependent on the existence of prior social norms (Fukuyama, 1997: 94).

These social norms, embedding an actor in his social context, is what we are interested in in the following and what we mean by moral foundations of liberalism.

2. The Moral Foundations of Liberalism

At the end of the twentieth century it seems as if liberal democracy is the only viable economic and political order left for advanced societies after fascism and communism have lost out as possible alternatives in the process of cultural evolution (Fukuyama, 1989). But under the influence of neoclassical thought the focus of liberalism became reduced to free markets economics, to market fundamentalism as George Soros puts it.[7] But in this way the moral and political dimension got lost. In a market society the whole of society is based upon market principles. Anything can be bought and sold. In a capitalist society you believe there is a price for everything. But where do you find the heart in a heartless world?[8]

For market fundamentalists does the evolutionary process of the market, with its survival of the fittest, solve the problem of justice in social life. With liberalism having lost its political and moral foundation it is no wonder that movements, like the communitarians, gain easily ground. They stress the lacking elements: community spirit and moral.[9] To break into the logic of ‘la pansée unique’[10] of monistic market liberalism and to try to complement it by its missing moral and political dimension will be the goal.

Rejecting the homo oeconomicus as the sole model for human behaviour and seeing man as a zoon politicon - a social and moral animal - is the first critique of market liberalism. Man is not only an egoist. This view might be right in maybe 80 percent. But in 20 percent or so our actions are guided by other motives than pure self interest. Actions motivated by our moral conscious will be of interest for us in the following. We will look at the biological and cultural base of morality. Some like Smith and Darwin think that man has an innate moral sense and is guided by universal sympathy. Others, like Kant and Rawls, see the need for moral learning. Finally, there are those, like Hobbs and Hegel who fear that man’s ambitions make him a dangerous creature which must be checked by the state and the rules of law. This will lead us to analyse the importance of political institutions, the second lacuna of market liberalism. Finally, the new view can be summarised in the concept of social capital. By social capital we mean the ability of people to cooperate and hence good quality social relations. Cooperation depends on the one hand on norms and moral (internal restrictions) and on the other hand on external restrictions by the social and political structure. Next we will first look at the necessary moral restrictions.

The Evolutionary Approach and the Moral Sense

The Biological Base of Morality

Man is by nature a moral being. The base of morality seems to lay in natural evolution. Living together with others gave him an advantage. The ability and the tendency to construct associations, and to seek security within them, are products of natural selection found in members of species with better survival chances in a group than in solitude. The advantages of group life can be manifold, the most important being increased chances to find food, defence against predators, and strength in numbers against competitors. But for such living together morality is of essential help. Therefore universally, human communities are moral communities. A morally neutral existence is as impossible for us as a completely solitary existence.[11]

But also other animals show signs of morality. Aiding others at a cost or risk to oneself is widespread in the animal world. The warning calls of birds allow other birds to escape a predator’s talons, but attract attention to the caller. A chimpanzee stroking and patting a victim of attack or sharing her food with a hungry companion shows attitudes that are hard to distinguish from those of a person picking up a crying child, or doing volunteer work in a soup kitchen. The difference between man and animal is not so much a fundamental one, than more a question of degree (de Waal, 1996: 10, 12, 210). Therefore we will first focus attention on those aspects which we have in common with animals and than look at what detracts us from the evolutionary perspective - which is mainly the human intellect and language, the basis of culture.

Ethology suggests us that it is hard to imagine human morality without the following tendencies and capacities found also in other species:

- Sympathy-Related Traits: Attachment, succorance, and emotional contagion. Learned adjustment to and special treatment of the disabled and injured. Ability to trade places mentally with others: cognitive empathy.*
- Norm-Related Characteristics: Prescriptive social rules. Internalisation of rules and anticipation of punishment.*
-Reciprocity: A concept of giving, trading and revenge. Moralistic aggression against violators of reciprocity rules.
- Getting Along: Peacemaking and avoidance of conflict. Community concern and maintenance of good relationships.* Accommodation of conflicting interests through negotiation.

- It is particularly in these areas - empathy, internalisation of rules and sense of justice, and community concern - that humans seem to have gone considerably further than most other animals (de Waal, 1996: 211).

Right and Wrong Since Gilgamesh

Accepting the natural and biological base of morality it is no wonder that question concerning right and wrong have bothered mankind during all ages and in all cultures. In the ‘Epic of Gilgamesh’, dating back to the third millennium before our time, we find the following warning to Gilgamesh, the great king of Uruk:

„But do not abuse this power, deal justly with your servants in the palace, deal justly before [the god, the sun] Shamesh“ (Gilgamesh, 1972: 70).

The same demands the Mahabharata in Indian culture. Rulers should protect their people with all their means (Asanusasana Parva, Section XXXII, 167-170). And in Chinese culture, Mengzi (-372 to -282), the ‘second genius’ and successor of Confucius, has developed the idea that each man has his self dignity. Everyone has a sensible sense for justice and the inborn capacity to distinguish between good and bad. Rulers have therefore the moral duty to respect their people.[12]

The idea of man having a moral sense has gained prominence in 18th century Scottish enlightenment. Anthony Ashley Cooper, duke of Shaftsbury and founder of the liberal Whig party has tried to explain ethical principals, without referring neither to religion nor to reason. Human nature is his starting point and the empirically observable social impulses. We feel what is just. David Hume follows Shaftesbury. The innate moral sense is the starting point of morality. It is the second guiding principle besides self-love. Man is seen as a social being capable to share feelings with others. He is embedded in a community. And it is sympathy which allows moral actions. Adam Smith has stressed this fact in his ‘Theory of Moral Sentiments’ (1759) as well and made it the starting point for his reflections on political economy.

Adam Smith and the Importance of Sympathy

‘The Moral Sentiment’ was first published in 1759, and its sixth and the last edition appeared in 1790, shortly before Smith’s death. ‘The Wealth of Nations’ appeared in between these dates - in fact in 1776. To some the two books ‘The Moral Sentiments’ and ‘The Wealth of Nations’ have appeared to be in tension with each other. In the ‘Moral Sentiments’ Smith ascribes our action to sympathy. In his ‘Wealth of Nations’ he ascribes them to selfishness. This contradiction on the first sight has been called ‘the Adam Smith problem’. But actually, it is not so much of a contradiction. It seems more that Smith thought people would behave selfishly in economic matters and that this would be for the benefit of all in most of the times. But in the field of social and political affairs he advocated altruism and public-spiritness. In ‘The Moral Sentiments’ Smith investigates the sympathetic part of human nature and in ‘The Wealth of Nations’, he investigates its selfish part. But it is important to see the consistency and complementarity of the two views. The fact that ‘The Moral Sentiments continued to be republished even after ‘The Wealth of Nations’ has been completed must be taken as a sign that Smith still sticked to the importance of moral sentiments (Sen, 1994: 1-3). Man is driven by a selfish desire to ‘better his condition’. But man is also seen as having a basic propensity for benevolence.

„How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it.“ (Smith, 1759/1976: 9)

Smith sees different reasons for going against the dictates of self-love, including inter alia the following:

Sympathy: „The most humane actions require no self-denial, no self-command, no great exertion of the sense of priority, [and] consist only in doing what this exquisite sympathy would of its own accord prompt us to do.“

Generosity: „It is otherwise with generosity, [when] we sacrifice some great and important interest of our own to an equal interest of a friend or of a superior.“

Public Spirit: „When he compares those two objects with one another, he does not view them in the light in which they naturally appear to himself, but in that in which they appear to the nation he fights for.“ (Smith, 1759/1976: 191).

His sympathy with his fellow man is a check to his self-interest. Sympathy, developed in personal contact, is the force which ensures social integration.

„Justice [...] is the main pillar that upholds the whole edifice. If it is removed, the great, the immense fabric of human society [...] must in a moment crumble into atoms.“ (Smith, 1759/1976: 86).[13]

Darwinism and the Moral Sense

Later in the 19th century Charles Darwin took the same view in his the ‘The Descent of Man’ (1871). Man is explicitly seen as a social animal capable of spontaneous sociability and guided by a moral sense (Darwin, 1871: 97-127).

„Any animal whatever, endowed with well-marked social instincts, would inevitably acquire a moral sense or conscience, as soon as its intellectual powers had become as [...] well developed as in man (Darwin, 1871: 98).

And, like Smith, he sees also the importance of sympathy.

„Sympathy [...] forms an essential part of the social instinct, and is indeed its foundation-stone“ (Darwin, 1871: 100).

For Darwin this moral feelings are innate, too. This contrary to his fellow man John Stuart Mill, (and to Rawls as we shall see later). Darwin differs from this view. For him it is no question that the social feelings are instinctive or innate in the lower animals, and why should they not be so in man? (Darwin: 1871: 98). It is important to insist that the moral sense is innate. This because an utilitarist, like Jeremy Bentham, argues that moral decisions simply based on intuitive feelings can be easily misused. Feelings can’t be questioned rationally. We think on the other hand that the innate moral sense finally leads people to revolt if their self dignity is not respected. And in accordance with the evolutionary view we assume that humans have a genetical innate propensity to live together in community. Living together and helping one another increases the survival chances of every group member. For such living together a moral sense and a propensity for moral learning would be very helpful.

The Evolution of Morality

The mathematical models of population genetics suggest the following rule in the evolutionary origin of altruism: If the reduction in survival and reproduction of individuals owing to genes for altruism is more than offset by the increased probability of survival of the group owing to the altruism, then altruism genes will rise in frequency throughout the entire population of competing groups. To put it as concisely as possible: the individual pays, his genes and tribe gain, altruism spreads (Wilson, 1998: 65). This is the so called ‘kin selection theory’ or ‘kinship altruism’. A helping tendency may spread if the help results in increased survival and reproduction of kin. From a genetic perspective it does not really matter whether genes are multiplied through the helper’s own reproduction or that of relatives. The other explanation is the one of reciprocal altruism. That is helpful acts that are costly in the short run may produce long-term benefits if recipients return the favour. It is the strategy of Tit-for-Tat we have seen before. Reciprocal altruism is a lot more complicated than simultaneous cooperation. There is the problem of the first help act - a gamble, since not every partner necessary follows the rules. Finally, there is hard-core altruism. It is altruism genuinely independent of personal reward or reciprocation. The most celebrated example of hard-core altruism is the Kantian golden rule.[14]

In the following we will not rest with the gene-centric sociobiologists view. With its sole focus on genetic selfishness it is reductionist and misses ultimately to take into account morality which lays at the core of being human. In a moral community, it matters not just what I do to you and what you do to me, but also what others think of our actions. Perceptions become a major issue. For this reason Adam Smith introduced an imaginary impartial spectator capable of evaluating social events with sympathy and understanding. Our actions are mirrored in the eyes of the spectator in the same way that everything we do is reflected in the response of our group.

Imagine that you have put your life at risk to save little John, who was playing on the railroad tracks. Within hours, the entire village will know what happened because people take careful note of social events around them. Your standing as a fine and trustworthy person will immediately go up one or two notches, which may help your contacts and your business. It is not little John who is doing you a return favour, but the community as a whole. It rewards behaviour that improves the quality of life. If all community members keep an eye on how each one of them responds to others in need, they will quickly learn who is likely to help and who is not. Once doing good is appreciated at the group level, it does not need to be rewarded on a Tit-for-Tat basis to yield benefits.

Theories of moral evolution need to assign a significant role to such outside attention, hence concern themselves with the community level. Although Darwinian at their core, they thus begin to transcend the exclusive focus on the individual by taking as their subject the way conflicts of interest are resolved and societies are constructed. If each individual tries to shape its social environment and receive feedback about how these efforts affect others, society becomes essentially an arena of negotiation and give-and-take. The origins of human sociality and the beginnings of a social contract lay here.

Leaving the reductionist camp of moral genetics and allowing for interaction with the environment and learning we get a more accurate description of how morality evolves. The mind does not start as a tabula rasa, but rather as a checklist with spaces allotted to particular types of incoming information. Predispositions to learn specific things at specific ages are widespread, the best human example being language acquisition. Human morality shares with language that it is far too complex to be learned through trial and error, and for too variable to be genetically programmed. Possibly we are born with a learning agenda that tells us which information to imbibe and how to organise it. We could then figure out, understand, and eventually internalise the moral fabric or our native society. This is moral ability. Does this make morality a biological or a cultural phenomenon? It seems more that the question of nature and nurture can only partially be disentangled. The same is true of relatively simple processes, such as the effect of light on plants. If a plant in a sunny spot grows taller than one in the shade, it is not because of either genetics or the environment, but both (de Waal, 1996: 12, 17, 24, 33-36, Brittan, 1995: 41). Besides the genetics of moral sentiment (‘moral instinct’) the development of moral consciousness is a product of the interactions of genes with the environment/culture (‘moral learning’). Moral learning leads us to Kant and Rawls.

Limits to the Evolutionary Approach and the Need for Constructivism

Rationalism in general is the alternative to evolutionary theories. Even when we feel comfortably with the idea of an innate moral instinct which has evolved in the evolutionary process, we must see the limits of evolutionary logic. Evolutionists are opposed to active intervention into the evolutionary process to improve the state of the world. Malthus, for instance, the true guru of evolutionary theory and inspirator of Darwin’s theory,[15] was opposed to help the poor at his time. In his ‘Essay on Population’ (1798), Malthus laid the foundations for a theory of natural selection by linking the issue of survival with population growth and competition for natural resources.[16] His thesis was that populations tend to outgrow their food supply and are cut back automatically by increased mortality. Any help one gives the poor permits them to survive and propagate, hence negates the natural process according to which these unfortunates are supposed to die off. Malthus went so far as to claim that if there is one right that man clearly does not posses, it is the right to subsistence that he himself is unable to purchase with his labour. Malthus did advocate - but without much optimism - voluntary restraint as a method of reducing population growth. The emphasis of such evolutionary theories is clearly on adjusting ourselves rather than adapting the world outside us (Sen, 1993a: 134, de Waal, 1996: 11).

Evolutionary theories also show a strong parallel with post-modernist thinking of politics. They stress that nothing is constant and everything flows which could also be interpreted in Hayekian terms of ‘spontaneous order’. Post-modern thinking with its radical critique of reason seems to undermine at first sight the base for constructivist interventions. But as Richard Rorty (1998: 96/97) argues are traditional social liberalism and traditional humanism entirely compatible with criticism of Enlightenment rationalism (of the like Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault, and Derrida do). We can still be old-fashioned reformists even if we give up the correspondence theory of truth and start treating moral and scientific beliefs as tools for achieving greater human happiness, rather than as representations of the intrinsic nature of reality.

The question if we should leave the deprived and the miserable to nature or use public action to try to help them is of prime importance. In the age of globalisation with the unlimited victory of the market there are the disciples of market fundamentalism. They think that the market mechanism leads us always to the best of all possible worlds. Hayek with his stress on the ‘spontaneous order’ is falling in this category.

The Hayekian Spontaneous Order and Burkean Conservatism

Hayek is concerned with the effect of the market system on the evolution and stability of society. He is interested in markets as examples of human institutions, like language or law, which have evolved spontaneously without any conscious plan on anyone’s part. The market system is a ‘discovery technique’ which allows entrepreneurs to open up possibilities which people did not know existed before (Brittan, 1995: 115, 116). Hayek, inspired by the 18th century conservative Edmund Burke, tries to embed his thinking into an overall theory of cultural evolution and stresses tradition as a source of morality. With this view he might come close to some schools of communitarism. For Hayek there are essentially three sources of morality: instinct, ratio and tradition. Like for instance for MacIntyre, tradition, parochial morals, the historical evolved community is important. And like MacIntyre he is cultural relativist. Hayek pledges for a particular altruism which is essential guided by historically evolved tradition. On the other hand it seems that he is quiet far away of communitarian, or moral liberalism stressing civic virtues. This because the moral sense, which is for the whole Scottish Enlightenment and also for Darwin - the great evolutionist - so important, doesn’t count for him.

„Aber der schwerwiegenste Fehler der älteren Propheten war ihr Glaube, dass die intuitiv erkannten ethischen Werte, die den Tiefen der menschlichen Brust entstammen, unveränderbar und ewig seien. Dies hindert sie zu erkennen, dass alle Verhaltensregeln einer bestimmten Art Gesellschaftsordnung zugehörig sind“ (Hayek, 1981: 224, 225).

Hayek is consequently anti-universalist and relativist. And he also refuses the idea that moral rules could be founded rationally, as Kant and this line of thought does. That is why for him the whole Enlightenment philosophy of rationalism is discredited.

„Im 17. Jahrhundert wurde diese Tradition [des Entwicklungsprozesses] gerade durch die Entwicklung der Philosophie des Rationalismus völlig gestoppt. Die Entwicklung der Moral ist ein Anpassungsprozess und nicht, wie die rationalistischen Theoretiker glauben, ein Ergebnis bewusster menschlicher Entscheidung. [...] Der Inhalt unserer Moralregeln ist nicht eine Schöpfung des menschlichen Geistes, sondern ein Ergebnis eines Entwicklungsprozesses.“ Hayek, 1983: 17, 21, 22).

Hayek is strongly attracted to old Burkean conservatism. Edmund Burke argued that most workable social rules could not be discerned through a priori reasoning, but rather emerged on a trial-and-error basis through the continuous evolution of societies. Burke, like Hayek, is also a cultural relativist. Each society will generate a different set of rules in response to its own environment and history, which reason is incapable of fully comprehending. For Burke, the French Revolution, and the Enlightenment project more broadly, represented a human disaster because they sought to replace these traditional rules with rational ones. But reason is insufficient to create the moral constraints needed to hold societies together, and so the Enlightenment project would fall apart owing to its own internal contradictions (Fukuyama, 1999: 251).

Burke and Hayek are not wrong by stressing historically evolved traditions. What is problematic is their complete neglect of other sources of morality (innate moral sense and moral learning). Hence there is no room for constructivist improvement of the world beyond the small circle of one’s family and friends.

Hayek has also an evolutionary view of progress. Progress is seen in terms of fitness. ‘Optimum’ is if you can outmatch all your rivals. But depending on circumstance and chance, many other alternatives could have come up. Therefore the thesis of evolutionary progression can at most claim some kind of local optimality - success with respect to a limited class of alternatives. And there are many virtues and achievements that do not help survival but that we value. And on the other side, there are many cases of successful survival that we find deeply objectionable. For example, if a species of vassals - some variant of homo sapiens - is kept in inhuman conditions by some tribe of tyrants and that species adapts and evolves into being not only very useful slaves but also dogged survivors and super-rapid reproducers, must we accept that development as a sign of progress?

We shouldn’t approve everything we find and endorse the products of natural selection in an uncritical way. When, some 2500 years ago, Gautama Buddha left his princely home to seek enlightenment, he was driven by dismay at the misery of human existence, at the sufferings of disease, old age, and death. He consciously disapproved the way we have emerged. Therefore we see the limits to the Social Darwinian/Hayekian view of spontaneous and undesigned progress. This view undermines the importance of rationally adjusting the world in which we live. A world view solely based on evolutionary processes deeply limits us because it focuses on adjusting ourselves rather than the world in which we live. There is the demand for autonomy and freedom (Sen, 1993a: 127, 130-132, 136).

Moral Learning and Social Justice

People seem to have an innate moral sense. But sole reliance on these moral feelings is not sufficient. Further, the problem with the evolutionary approach is that it limits us to accept the world, with all its misery, as it is. The only thing we can do is to adjust us better to the circumstances. Therefore the need for constructivist political engagement and moral learning. Learning of rationally founded moral rules is the other way of morality. It complements and enforces the innate moral sense.

Aristotle's Virtue Ethic

Aristotle stresses in his Nichomachean Ethics the importance of complementing us through moral learning. Man strives - according to Aristotle - by nature for the good. That is the way to eudemonia (happiness). Happiness derives from excellence of our potentialities; when the soul acts according to reason. When we realise our powers and engage in judging, choosing, deciding, and discriminating, we come to enjoy who we are, because we are in so far as we are actualised and the realisation of our powers is enjoyable. When we love the exercise of our characteristic human abilities most of all, we are true lovers of self. Moreover, we are morally virtuous. The virtuous person, as a true self-lover, has a kind of positive self-regard and self-confidence. He enjoys himself and his life and does not wish to be different. Finally, because the self-lover enjoys himself and his life in the way we have described, there is no reason to think he won't also take pleasure from the exercise of others characteristic human powers. He has no reason to grunge others their achievements; rather, he is more likely to develop friendly feelings with them. Because of the attitude he has towards himself, we can expect him to enjoy the pleasures of social fellowship and civic life. The absence of true self-love (not the bad self-love Aristotle condemns[17] ) is, on the other hand, appropriately associated with nonvirtous conditions, whether those be conditions of continence, incontinence, or moral vice. Vicious people are self-haters, are full of regret, and can't form stable friendships.

A virtuous character in the Aristotelian sense is one who has managed to overcome the weakness of the will, the interfering of nonrational desires. He is a self-lover who enjoys practical rational activity and has stable feelings of friendship with other self-lover (Homiak, 1997: 9, 21). Excellence is not the product of nature but the result of habit According to Aristotle man has by nature a natural propensity for moral but he must perfect it through habit.

„None of the moral excellences arises in us by nature. [...] Neither by nature, then, nor contrary to nature do excellences arise in us; rather we are adapted by nature to receive them, and are made perfect by habit.

For the things we have to learn before we can do, we learn by doing so, e.g. men become builders by building and lyre-players by playing the lyre; so too we become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts. This is confirmed by what happens in states; for legislators make the citizens good by forming habits in them.[18] [...] Again, it is from the same causes and by the same means that every excellence is both produced and destroyed, and similarly every art; for it is from playing the lyre that both good and bad lyre-players are produced. [...] For if this were not so, there would have been no need of a teacher, but all men would have been born good or bad at their craft. This then, is the case with the excellences also; by doing the acts that we do in our transactions with other men we become just or unjust, and by doing the acts that we do in the presence of danger, and being habituated to feel fear or confidence, we become brave or cowardly. [...] It makes no small difference, then, whether we form habits of one kind or of another from our very youth; it makes a very great difference, or rather all the difference.“ (II, 1103a 19-26).

Aristotle explains that for people to be truly virtuous, they must habituate themselves to virtuous behaviour such that it becomes a kind of second nature that is pleasurable in itself, or if not pleasurable something that the virtuous man takes pride in.

Kant’s Categorical Imperative

After the middle of the 18th century the British Empiricists have an intellectual impact in Germany. Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Hume and others are translated. Moral sense theory is much admired, by Kant among others. In the early writings of Kant it is not yet determined whether the primary principles of obligations are based on the faculty of knowledge or of feeling (Korsgaard, 1996: 6/7).

But by working out his view and developing his critical philosophy he decides against moral sense theory. Based on the autonomy of free will he develops the ‘golden rule’. An ethical rule which can be found in the form of ‘don’t do to others what you don’t want that it is done to you’ in the New Testament Matthew VII 12 and Lucas VI 31, but also in nearly every higher developed culture (Höffe, 1996: 74). His categorical imperative, developed in ‘Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten’ (1785), demands:

„Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law (G 421).“

-r which can be worded alternatively:

„Act so that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of another, always as an end and never as a means only (G 429).“ (quoted in Korsgaard, 1996).

This two maxims can also be reworded in order to show their effect for the public: the behaviour of the individual becomes the maxim of the general public. (Cf. e.g. Höffe, 1979: 84-117 for how Kant validates his rule). Even though stressing now the rational foundation of morality he states in his ‘Die Metaphysik der Sitten’ (1797) that man without moral feelings would be ‘morally death’ (Holenstein, 1998). And the development of sympathetic feeling can make following the moral law easier, since sympathy „is one of the impulses placed in us by nature for effecting what the representation of duty might not accomplish by itself.“ (Kant, quoted in Homiak, 1997: 32).

Kant even though concerning moral a great idealist is in matters of concrete politics more realistic. He starts in ‘Zum ewigen Frieden’ (1781/1984: 31) with a Hobbsian assumption about man. Men is seen as a ‘people of devils’.

„Das Problem der Staatserrichtung ist, so hart es auch klingt, selbst für ein Volk von Teufeln (wenn sie nur Verstand haben), auflösbar.“

But they can nevertheless achieve a good, republican constitution. Therefore the system of rules must channel the antagonistic selfish desires in such a way that they offset each other and promote peace. And subsequently a good constitution can foster moral learning in its citizens.

„Nicht von dieser [der Moralität] [ist] die gute Staatsverfassung, sondern vielmehr umgekehrt von der letzteren allererst [ist] die gute moralische Bildung eines Volkes zu erwarten.“ (1781/1984: 31).

Jürgen Habermas’ Ethics of Discourses

Habermas takes up the Kantian question of how moral rules can be founded and generalised? But he broadens the horizon. Whereas Kant has developed an essentially subjectivist conception of moral reasoning with his categorical imperative, Habermas stresses the intersubjecitve dimension. The ethics of discourses, developed by Karl-Otto Apel and Jürgen Habermas, builds upon the idea that only those moral rules can be accepted which are approved by all people concerned in a free discourse. Morality is not anymore grounded in an individual, autonomous subject which recognises by the power of reason the supremacy of moral rules, like it was for Kant. For Habermas the supremacy of a moral rule must be validated in the free, intersubjective discourse of all subjects concerned. In the free discourse the best argument will develop the powerless authority of the better argument and will be recognised by all. Thus, morally acting individuals are embedded in a communicative group. This is the context of the lifeworld (Horster, 1995: 67-73). It is in this horizon of intersubjective communication that moral learning takes place.

Rawls’ Just Society

This century John Rawls lays foundations for moral and political liberalism with his ‘Theory of Justice’ (1971), further developed in ‘Political Liberalism’ (1993). The basic problem of ‘Political Liberalism’ is that reason produces a plurality of answers to how we should live. In modern democratic society a plurality of incompatible and irreconcilable doctrines - religious, philosophical, and moral - coexist. Free institutions themselves encourage this plurality of doctrines. The problem is how a stable political order is possible under conditions of a plurality of reasonable, but incompatible, doctrines? It is no longer a society united in its basic moral beliefs but in its political conception of justice, and this justice is the focus of an overlapping consensus of reasonable comprehensive doctrines. It is an overlapping consensus that can be endorsed by the main religious, philosophical, and moral doctrines that endure over time in a well-ordered society. Communitarians, like Etzioni, would call this overlapping consensus ‘the community-of-community’.

Rawls generalises and carries to a higher order of abstraction the traditional theory of the social contract as represented by Locke, Rousseau, and Kant. The theory developed offers an alternative systematic account of justice that is superior, or so he argues, to the dominant utilitarism. The theory that results is highly Kantian in nature. Orthodox Lockean liberalism, stressing only individualism, property rights and market economy, is transformed into a social liberalism, making the improvement of the living conditions of the poorest the ultimate goal (‘difference principle’).

Rawls, like Aristotle, Kant and the empiricist tradition, starts from the assumption that man is more than a crude egoist. Man is a social and moral being. The moral feelings are a normal feature of human life. We could not do away with them without at the same time eliminating certain natural attitudes. Among persons who never acted in accordance with their duty of justice except as reasons of self-interest there would be no bonds of friendship and mutual trust. If either of two egoists, for example, deceives the other and this is found out, none of them has a ground for complaint. Neither accepts the principles of justice so neither has any reasons to complain. Resentment and indignation are moral feelings. They presuppose acceptance of the principles of right and justice.

But how do we develop a moral sense? Love, friendship and the sense of justice arise from the manifest intention of other persons to act for our good. Because we recognise that they wish us well, we care for their well-being in return. Thus we acquire attachments to persons and institutions according to how we perceive our good to be affected by them. The basic idea is one of reciprocity, a tendency to answer in kind.[19] This tendency is a deep psychological fact. Without it our nature would be very different and fruitful social cooperation fragile. Axelrod (1984: 118-120), as we have seen, sees reciprocity, the strategy of Tit-for-Tat, at the centre of the evolution of human cooperation, too. If we would answer love with hate, or came to dislike those who acted fairly towards us, a community would soon dissolve. Beings with a different psychology either have never existed or must soon have disappeared in the course of evolution. A capacity for a sense of justice built up by responses in kind would appear to be a condition of human sociability.

We might conclude that the moral sense is partly an innate instinct as seen by Smith and Darwin, but can be reinforced in benevolent reciprocal interaction as stressed by Rawls. And for this reinforcement just social institutions are important. Moral learning takes place in the context of public institutions. It seems plausible that in a well-ordered society moral learning would follow the order presented. As we have seen, the idea of a just society fostering moral learning has its roots with Aristotle and Kant.

To sketch the major principles of such a well-ordered society is the goal of Rawls’ ‘Theory of Justice’. In Rawls’ theory life is a game of chance in which nature deals out attributes and social positions in a random way. No one deserves his greater natural capacity nor merits a more favourable starting place in society. But it does not follow that one should eliminate these distinctions. There is another way to deal with them. The basic structure can be arranged so that these contingencies work for the good of the least fortunate. The natural distribution is neither just nor unjust. These are simply natural facts. What is just and unjust is the way that institutions deal with these facts. Aristocratic and caste societies are unjust because they make these contingencies the ascriptive basis for belonging to a privileged social class. Thus, a set of just institutions is one that mitigates the effects of chance on the positions of individuals in the social structure, one which fosters meritocracy.

To establish such a set of institutions, individuals must divorce themselves from knowledge of their own personal attributes and social positions by stepping through a ‘veil of ignorance’ that screens out any facts that might allow an individual to predict his position and benefits under a given set of principles. Having passed through the veil of ignorance, all individuals are in an ‘original position’ of total equality in that each possess the same information about the likely effects of different institutions on his own future position. The original position establishes a status of universal equality from which the social contract is written.

Rawls argues that the following two principles will be chosen as pillars of a just social contract, and where justice is understood as fairness:

First: each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others.

Second: social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both

(a) reasonably expected to be to everyone’s advantage,[20] and

(b) attached to positions and offices open to all.

These two principles are a special case of a more general conception of justice that can be expressed as follows. All social values - liberty and opportunity, income and wealth, and the bases of self-respect - are to be distributed equally unless an unequal distribution of any, or all, of these values is to everyone’s advantage (Rawls, 1971: vii, 3-10, 60, 62, 102, 136-138, 487, 488, 494-495). And which is again nothing else than the first article of the Declaration of Human Rights from 1789:

„Les distinctions sociales ne peuvent être fondées que sur l’utilité commune.“ [The social inequalities can only be founded on common utility.] (quoted in a handout of Prof. E. Holenstein, SS 1999, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology).

Society should foster cooperation for mutual benefit. But this creates the problem of how do we distribute the gains? Therefore we need principles to solve such conflicts. Rawls suggests that rational individuals acting under uncertainty would agree to the concept of justice as fairness, and inequalities helping the poorest. Such a just society would help best moral learning, too. Moral learning is important, because Rawls doesn’t assume an innate moral sense. Starting point for him are popular ideas of justice. Through abstraction from them universal rules of justice are generated. ‘Folk morality’ and abstract principles build a reflexive equilibrium. Important is that social institutions help to cultivate the moral sentiments people have. A just and well-ordered society would help best moral learning. This because moral learning takes place in the public place and responds to how you are treated by society. Therefore in a just society you build up most likely a well developed moral consciousness (Höffe, 1979: 180-185).

Summary of Moral Sources of Social Capital

Have we come closer to answer our initial question of where do we find the heart in a heartless world? This question is so important since we are living in a market society where people think that there is a price for everything and the price is determined not by the intrinsic value of the asset, but by how much you can get for that asset on a market. Therefore let’s summarise the various moral sources of moral liberalism, stressing intrinsic values, the necessary internal restrictions fostering cooperation and representing social capital. So far we have discussed more in depth the evolutionary and biological base (Smith, Darwin and Hayek), their limits and the need for constructivism (Aristotle, Kant and Rawls). Thus the following taxonomy of norm-generation represented in the subsequent figure 4, might be helpful in giving a summary of moral sources of social capital. Originally developed by Fukuyama (1999: 145-153, 187-193) it is now complemented by some crucial additional elements, like social domination, ideal free discourse and mystical experience as sources of norms.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 4: Moral Sources of Social Capital

Source: Fukuyama (1999: 152, 188) with modifications.

a) Hierarchically constructed

The construction is the result of intentional action on the part of a community as a whole, usually through an institution like the state. Formal institutions like constitutions and legal systems tend over time also to produce informal social norms. Tocqueville’s ‘Democracy in America’ is a study of social norms such as individualism that resulted from the American regime’s formal commitment to equality. By and large, the left tends to believe that human nature and culture are relatively plastic, and that norms can be shaped by deliberate manipulation.

Rational: As societies modernise, norms tend to be created less in the lower than in the upper quadrants, and particularly in the upper left one. The terms that classically have been associated with modernisation by theorists like Weber, Durkheim, and Tönnies are ‘rationalisation’, ‘bureaucratisation’, ‘shift from status to contract’, and ‘Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft’. This implies that formal, rational legal authority, often vested in the state, becomes the chief source of order in modern societies. Therefore in democratic societies, the chief source of institutionally constructed social norms is law. And outside the family, education is the next most important arena for socialisation.

The most extreme form of rational constructivism was undertaken by communist states such as the Soviet Union. The goal was to create a ‘new Soviet Man’ who would be shorn of selfish private interests and oriented towards the good of mankind as a whole. The Soviet Union’s seventy-year experiment ended in a total failure leaving the population, if anything, more selfish, inwardlooking and atomised.

Do formal laws merely codify existing social practices, or do they play a role in shaping morality? There are on the one side those who regard formal law as a reflection of informal norms, and on the other side are those who regard law as critical to shaping norms (Fukuyama, 1997: 97-99, 1999: 188).

But constructivists, like Rawls, go further. For them should state-society interactions in a well-ordered society take place in a benevolent form helping the poorest. In such a setting moral learning is fostered the most. Already for Aristotle is character forming essential to foster the necessary civic virtues on which a lively polity depends. He, as Kant as well, stresses that the just society should foster moral learning.

Arational: Marx argues that social norms have been constructed under capitalism to serve the interests of the bourgeoisie. There are several contemporary versions of this view. Feminists argue that female social roles are the result of unjust male domination and patriarchy. Many postmodernists, like Foucault, broaden this critique and argue that all behaviour is socially constructed, not on the basis of human beings rationally discussing the best forms of community life, but on the basis of power and hierarchy. In their usage the term ‘power’ denotes an agency which has left an indelible stain on every word in our language and on every institution in our society. It is always already there, and cannot be spotted coming or going. Social identities and the norms supporting them have no basis in nature or biology, but are entirely the product of one group seeking to impose its hegemony on another.

Revealed religion is an exogenous source of arational, hierarchical norms. On the right, there is a strong tendency to think that social norms come largely if not exclusively from religion. By this view, the principal reason for the changes in social norms is the spread of secular values throughout society. The cure for the problem of deficient norms is therefore more religion. (Fukuyama, 1997: 100, 101, 103-106, Rorty, 1998: 94). But to recognise the importance of religion for norm-generation must not necessarily lead to right wing religious conservatism and fundamentalism. An alternative might be spontaneous, arational mystical experience.

b) Spontaneously constructed:

Rational: Economics, the study of markets, is primarily concerned with the rules of rational, spontaneous exchange. In this category belongs game theory with models like Tit-for-Tat as we have seen. It provides a source of insights into the decentralised, bottom up development of cooperative norms. The problem is just that many game theorists believe that game theory is the only source of norms (Fukuyama, 1997: 101, 1999: 152).

Another, more encompassing spontaneous rational approach to norms generation is the ‘ideal free discourse’ of Karl-Otto Apel and Jürgen Habermas. In the ‘ideal free discourse’ all subjects concerned can freely express their opinion and the best argument will develop the powerless authority of the better argument. Thus, such intersubjectively generated norms are not only rational in the individual sense, but also collectively reasonable (Rawls).

Arational: Building upon Edmund Burke, Friedrich Hayek and other Austrian economists argue that social norms are the result of a long-term spontaneous evolution. Therefore the importance of the wisdom of historically evolved traditions. But they stress that this process is not a rational one. Hayek quotes Hume approvingly to the effect that „the rules of morality [...] are not conclusions of our reason.“ By taking this position, Hayek seeks to debunk the rational constructivism he sees as the core of the socialist project.[21] With the model of English common law in mind, Hayek argues that social norms are not generally legislated through a formal political process, but are rather the result of the repeated interactions of individuals seeking to achieve common aims (Fukuyama, 1997: 101, 102).

Norms rooted in nature are also arational and spontaneous in their character. It is about the biological base of sociability which is hard-wired into the genetic code. It looks like as if the original human condition was one of attended lack of liberty. Like our ancestors, humans tend to life in close face-to-face groups. But it was in this social cage that our ancestors developed social feelings like sympathy and empathy (de Waal, 1996).

Human biology creates a predisposition to solve collective action problems, but the particular norms and meta-norms chosen by a given group of individuals are cultural choice, not a product of nature. Just as human beings are born with the ability to learn and use language, the actual language they acquire depends on the culture in which they grow up.

Finally, there is mystical experience as arational spontaneous source of norms. Confronted with the fact of ‘Sein zum Tode’ [being to death] (Heidegger) one might think about how to give meaning to ones limited life.

3. The Need for Federal Political Institutions

Megalothymia, Amour-Propre and the Need for Political Institutions

Unfortunately, the innate moral sense and moral learning are not enough to ensure social integration and cooperation. Of course, there is Plato who speaks of thymos, which can be translated as spiritedness, heart or heartiness. In Plato’s Republic Socrates describes thymos as that it is associated with courage and with the emotion of anger or indignation on behalf of one’s own. thymos builds together with desire and reason the third part of the soul. Socrates suggests a relationship between anger and self-esteem by explaining that the nobler a man is - that is, the more highly he evaluates his own worth - the more angry he will become when he has been dealt with unjustly: his spirit „boils and becomes harsh“ forming an „alliance for battle with what seems just“ even if he „suffers in hunger, cold and everything of the sort...“. Like this thymos is linked to an innate human sense of justice . Thymos provides an all-powerful emotional support to the process of valuing and evaluating, and allows human beings to overcome their most powerful natural instincts for the sake of what they believe is right or just. Another example for how strong the desire for recognition is, is the passion of feminist or gay rights activists who demand that members of their group be treated with equal respect by the larger society.[22]

The desire for recognition rather than rational utility maximisation lays at the centre of human motivation.[23] Natural wants and needs are few in number and rather easily satisfied, particularly in the context of a modern industrial economy. Our motivation in working and earning money is much more closely related to the recognition that such activity affords us, where money becomes a symbol not for the material good but for social status or recognition. This universal goal of social approval was also to Adam Smith quiet clear when he explained in the ‘Theory of Moral Sentiments’:

„Nature, when she formed man for society, endowed him with an original aversion to offend his brethren. She thought him to feel pleasure in their favourable, and pain in their unfavourable regard.“ (Smith, 1759/1976: 116).

„It is the vanity, not the ease or the pleasure, which interests us.“ (Smith, 1759/1976: 50) (quoted in Reisman, 1998).

But there is a dark side to the desire for recognition as well. The existence of a moral dimension in the human personality doesn’t mean that there will be always an agreement on the substantive content of morality. And the moral sense and moral learning is much less developed in some people than in others. There is no reason to think that all people will evaluate themselves as the equals of other people. Rather, they may seek to be recognised as superior to other people. Possibly on the basis of true inner worth, but more likely out of an inflated vain estimate of themselves. This desire to be recognised as superior to other people is megalothymia (Fukuyama, 1993: 181, 182, Fukuyama, 1995: 162-171, 358, 359) or in Rousseau’s word ‘amour-propre’ (‘selfishness’).[24] It goes together with a Hobbsian claim to posses everything. Our desire for recognition by others leads to competition and domination. Rousseau cites the example of Hobbs that there are so many candidates which go for the same race (Rousseau, 1755/1997: 256).

„Je montrerois que c’est à cette ardeur de faire parler de soi, à cette fureur de se distinguer qui nous tient presque toujours hors de nous mêmes, que nous devons ce qu’il y a de meilleur et de pire parmi les hommes, nos vertus et nos vices, nos Sciences et nos erreurs, nos Conquérans et nos Philosophes, c’est-à-dire, une multitude de mauvaise choses sur un petit nombre de bonnes (Rousseau, 1755/1997: 256)

Unlike Adam Smith Rousseau doesn’t see the benefits of outside attention for moral development. For him ‘amour-propre’ and vanity are the seed of all evil.

„Le sauvage vit en lui-même; l’homme sociable toujours hors de lui ne fait vivre que dans l’opinion des autres. [...] D’une telle disposition naît tant d’indifférence pour le bien et le mal.“ (Rousseau, 1755/1997: 268).

Therefore the mirror of group attention is not a source of moral excellence. He overstresses the negative side of outside attention and goes even so fare as to locate here the seeds of our civilisational disease. It might increase scientific knowledge and refinement of arts and letters, but not help to improve morals. Natural man (the noble ‘homme sauvage’) left alone in his natural environment is self-sufficient and peaceable and follows his ‘amour de soi’, a simple healthy concern for one’s own well-being, restricted by ‘pitié’.[25] But as man joins together with others to make up states he degenerates and becomes corrupt. ‘Amour-propre’, an anxious concern for tribute to be paid to one’s status becomes the only concern. Sexual jealousy, the desire for domination and resentment grow up as men come to demand esteem and deference. As a consequence men begin to compete for precedence and life is tainted by aggression and spite. Those who have acquired dominance then conspire together to consolidate their position. They argue that everyone needs a more peaceable and stable society, which can only be achieved through the apparatus of government. Thus it is that they consolidate the status quo, but without right or justice and acting only to perpetuate unfair privilege and the oppression of the weak. Led by the effect of exacerbated ‘amour-propre’ people seek individual ascendancy by doing others down. That is his explanation for the observation that ‘L’homme est né libre, mais partout il est enchaîné’.

Rousseau presents an alternative approach to how we might achieve a just and legitimate civil order with his ‘Le Contract Social’ (1762).[26] Everyone should have an equal political standing regardless of birth or wealth. This work will later have a profound influence on the French Revolution.

Prior to modern liberal democracy, the struggle for recognition was carried on by ambitious princes who sought primacy over each other through war and conquest. Indeed, Hegel’s account of the human historical process began with a primordial ‘bloody battle’ in which two combatants sought to be recognised by the other, leading one ultimately to enslave the other. Political institutions allow now to stop the Hobbsian ‘bellum omnium contra omnes’.

The struggle for recognition that formerly had been carried by military means is now pursued by economic means. Where formerly princes sought to vanquish each other by risking their lives in bloody battles, they now risk their capital through the building of industrial empires. Entrepreneurship has replaced the art of war. The underlying psychological need is the same, only the desire for recognition is satisfied through the production of wealth rather than the destruction of material values. Early political economist of the Scottish Enlightenment like Adam Ferguson, Adam Smith and James Stuart all hoped that the destructive energies of a warrior culture would be channelled into the safer pursuit of a commercial society, with a corresponding softening of manners (Fukuyama, 1995: 358-360). This a more optimistic account than given by Rousseau of how to transform the desire for recognition into something socially appreciable.

To summarise we can recall our view of man which is maybe best described by Pascal when he said that the angle and the beast coexist in us together with potential humanity (Marc, 1990: 10).[27] Or as Buddha said, wherever there is shadow, there is light. Aristotle nicely links this view to politics. He begins the ‘Politics’ (I 2 1253 a 31-34) by asserting that man is a political animal by nature, somewhere between a beast and a god.

„A social instinct is implanted in all men by nature, and yet he who first found the state was the greatest of benefactors. For man, when perfected, is the best of animals, but, when separated from law and justice, he is the worst of all; since armed injustice is the more dangerous, and he is equipped at birth with arms, meant to be used by intelligence and excellence, which he may use for the worst ends. That is why, if he has not excellence, he is the most unholy and the most savage of animals, and the most full of lust and gluttony. But justice is the bond of men in states; for the administration of justice, which is the determination of what is just, is the principle of order in political society.“[28]

We can conclude that a state is needed to ensure an orderly living together when man neither follows his moral sense nor rationally founded moral rules on the one side. State institutions are a check to man’s magalothymia, his ‘amour-propre’ and potential gluttony. On the other side can the state foster moral learning and a fruitful and collaborative living together through a fair administration of justice. Having understood the need for a state, the next question is how it should be structured and of which size it should be. Therefore we will develop next the principles of federalism. We are convinced that a federal European polity will build a cornerstone of a reformed European societal model and help best the accumulation of social capital.

Personalism and the Principles of a Federalist Polity

An alternative vision to a Europe under the total dictate of the market logic is the one of personalistic federalism. Starting point is the person embedded in a community. The person is not the homo oeconomicus, an atomised individual, purely egoistic and in constant competition to its fellow men. It is more a person viewed as a social and moral being. This view is nothing new as we have seen in our previous discussion about moral foundations of liberalism. During the years of crisis in the 1930s, a group of mainly French intellectuals started to think about the problems of European society. They sought to reequilibrate the opposing tendencies of individualism and collectivism. Their solution was personalism which applied to the political organisation leads to federalism.

Federalism as Philosophy

Personalistic thinking started to spark around the two journals ‘Esprit’ and ‘L’Ordre nouveau’ in Paris in the 1930s. The French personalists have been influenced by Max Scheler and were in contact with Martin Buber and Karl Jaspers, the protestant theologian Karl Barth, the catholic Gabriel Marcel and Jacques Maritain and the orthodox Nikolaus Berdiajeff. The personalist-federalist school has been developed mainly by Robert Aron, Arnaud Dandieu, Alexander Marc, Emmanuel Mounier, Daniel Rops and the Swiss writer Denis de Rougemont. They have build upon the older, social-libertarian thinking of Proudhon and Bakounin. For them all forms of state organisations are problematic and the more fare away of the people the worse (anarchism). Small is beautiful and self-determination important. Therefore society should re-emerge bottom up based upon voluntary cooperation and corporations.

All have been convinced that the individualism which has inspired the Jacobeans has led to an atomisation of society. An atomised society demanded as counterweight a totalitarian state. ‘It is with the powder of individuals that you build the concrete of totalitarian states’ (Rougemont). Man was not seen as an ‘individual’, but as a ‘ person ’ which means at the same time free and autonomous but related to others through one’s responsibility and engagement. The uniqueness of each individual has only a meaning when he is related to others (Marc, 1990). It is not by accident that great thinkers like Meng Zi, Smith or Darwin saw man’s relatedness through his moral sense to others, too.

For Rougemont is the idea of federalism more organic than rational in its nature, more dialectical than simply logical. Federalism is not a simple philosophy of ‘either ... or’, but of ‘not only ... but also’. Regional, national and European identity, for instance, do not exclude, but complement each other. The motto of personalism is ‘neither individualism nor collectivism – but personalism’. Man in his individual and societal dimension stands at the centre. Too much individualism leads to massification and decay of society. On the other hand do collectivist ideologies suppress people. Freedom and development of the individual are sacrificed to the national ‘race’ or social ‘class’. Collective and individual, unity and diversity are the two ideal type poles between which federalism tries to find its balance. Both of the two poles are at the same time unattainable and in constant tension to each other. In Japanese one would speak in such an ambivalent situation of ‘amae’ – freedom in security.[29]

Principles of Federalism

The goal of federalist thinkers, like Alexandre Marc or Ferdinand Kinsky, is a federation equilibrating the opposing poles of unity and diversity (Kinsky 1995). The federation is a non-central order, a state at different echelon according to the geography of problems. Power must be divided and diffused, so that at the end ‘the power is everywhere even at the centre’ (Marc). Here we must warn of a misunderstanding. We don’t mean by ‘federalism’ what most Anglo-Saxons understand by it – a centralised unitary state. We have more the Swiss and German meaning of federalism in mind, a view which sees the plurality of regions as cornerstone. The autonomous region is important for federalism. Here face to face relationships are possible and local identities and common values important.

According to Rougemont (1947) does federalism presupposes to renounce on any form of hegemony or thinking in systems.[30] Federalism does not know any minority problems because each minority has its own qualitative intrinsic value independently of its quantity. It does not want to eradicate national idiosyncrasies. To the contrary federalism tries to preserve them. Federalism is the love for complexity. It is about putting together a ‘bricolage’ (C.-L. Stauss). Finally, a federation is not created by a governmental decree from the centre, but by the engagement of diverse persons and groups – civil society.

A federal order is based on a combination of the principles of autonomy, cooperation, subsidiarity and participation (Kinsky 1995: 48-55):

- Autonomy: This means neither independence of sovereign states nor dependence of the lower units of administration, like communities, departments or regions. Autonomy implies a large degree of self-determination and total self-organisation. For autonomy to work really it must not only be guaranteed by the constitution, but supply of sufficient financial resources is equally important. Therefore financial redistribution towards poorer regions is important.

- Cooperation and resolution of conflicts by means of law: Rule of law and not rule of the strongest, hegemony. This means pursuing one's interest in case of conflict, but respecting at the same time the autonomy of the partner. Since autonomy is guaranteed discretion and power politics is limited. Thus there is room for a cooperative combination of egoism and fair play where tensions are not suppressed, but are an integral part of the whole.

- Subsidiarity and appropriate distribution of power. Problems are solved on the level where they arise. Accordingly are competencies, decision-making mechanisms and financial resources distributed.

- Participation: The citizens and the member states participate in the decision-making process at the federal level. Federalism is only "quasi-contractualism". Decisions are preferably made at the base, but this is not totally sovereign. There is still the possibility of unilateral interventions from the top. Decisions are not made by unanimity, that would be a confederation. They are made by majority voting. But as compensation the member states participate in the decision-making process. Participation of member states at the federal level is important. Without it we would have only a decentralised state.

In opposition to the Jacobean tradition where only individuals have a say does federalism not try to suppress intermediary corporations, civil society and regions. To the contrary their involvement and participation is actively nurtured. Therefore federalist do not only want a second chamber representing the member states, but also a third economic and social chamber representing the interests of the social partners. Lobbying should become like this more transparent and interests which have difficulties to get organised collectively, like the consumers, would be more adequately represented.

In reality, however, federal principles are not always applied. But one must always ask if there would be better results in a non-federal system. Everyone who knows, for example, Switzerland should try to imagine Switzerland with its four languages and cultures as a unitary state or as a lose confederation. Switzerland, the ‘confederatio helvetica’, was once a confederation, like North America. Bot both confederations have been faced with to many problems which allowed only the transformation into a more effective federation. In general confederations are because of the unanimity requirement quiet unstable systems. In the long run they normally have only the options to either dissolve or to fusion further into a federation. Therefore the federation is the goal to strive for which is developed to a great deal in Switzerland. Thus Switzerland does not have to Europeanise, but Europe has to Helvetise. Something already Karl Jaspers recognised after W.W.II when he predicted that Europe had only two options left: to Balkanise or to Helvetise! We will come back at the end of part III to the problem of a European federation when we will oppose competition of systems to the advantages of a federal solution and look for pathways towards a federal Europe.

So fare we have analysed intrinsically, morally motivated cooperation and the need for externally, enforced cooperation by means of the state. And the state is best organised according to federalist principles in order to maximise self-determination. The two dimensions of the moral and the political can be captured by social capital

4. Social Capital – Concept, Production, Distribution and Depreciation

Society is a cooperative venture of an association of persons for mutual advantage. But in case of successful cooperation the problem emerges of how do you distribute the gains (Rawls, 1971: 4)? Therefore you need a moral sense and some guiding moral principles. The more just cooperation evolves the less force you need. On the other hand can social structure help to enforce cooperation in the presence of social dilemma situations and of selfish individuals. Social capital as a general measure for cooperative capacity tries to capture both of these aspects: the moral dimension of just cooperation (civil social capital) and the necessary structural component to enforce cooperation by organisational means (government social capital).

Social capital fostering cooperation reduces transaction costs. Social capital is important for the emergence of cooperative ventures in the market place and for the functioning of classical hierarchical organisations (like enterprises or the state). But most of all it is essential for network building. Networks have the advantage to be more flexible then rigid hierarchies but less anarchic than the market. But social structure doesn’t determine an individuals action completely. To the contrary an individual can use social structure - in the form of networks and connections - to his own advantage. Both the view of the ‘undersocialised’ man of economics and the view of ‘oversocialised’ man of sociology are refuted. Persons are seen as being embedded in communities, having feelings of reciprocal obligations, and are able to use their personal networks. Social capital takes up a relational perspective and is about a persons connectedness and embeddedness.[31]

In the following we will first look at the relational definition of capital of Karl Marx. This view has inspired Pierre Bourdieu and James Coleman’s attempts to conceptualise social capital. Understanding social structure’s double character as enablement and as impediment will lead us to the ‘structure/agency’ problem. Social organisation constitutes social capital. Social justice, trust, civic spirit and tolerance are key values fostering cooperation together with communication. Subsequently we will analyse how social capital is produced, distributed and depleted.

The Concept of Social Capital: Its Origins From Karl Marx Onwards

Production is the transformation of inputs in outputs. Inputs are those things which need to be increased in order to obtain more output by the same method of production. Capital goods are seen as produced means of production. They derive their value not, as the classics had maintained, from the fact that they represent land and labour services spent in the past, but from their prospective usefulness in the production of future output. A stock of different capital goods is a capital. The term money capital denotes the sum of money necessary to buy a specified stock of capital goods (Palgrave, 1987: 327, 330). Physical capital and human capital facilitate production activity, and social capital does so as well.

Physical capital is created by making changes in materials so as to form tools that facilitate production. Human capital is created by changing persons so as to give them skills and capabilities that make them able to act in new ways. Social capital is created when the relations among persons change in ways that facilitate action (Coleman, 1990: 304, 305). Human capital is surely necessary to success, but it is useless without the social capital of opportunities in which to apply it (Burt, 1998: 7). Social capital is capital since the norms and social relations building it are persistent. Social interaction producing simply a flow of positive externalities can be termed social labour. Only persistence of the social interaction or of its effects makes it a stock and capital. (Collier, 1998: 4)

The idea of capital being a social relation goes back to Marx. He writes in his ‘Das Kapital’ (1867/1976, Appendix, II-III):

„If we look more closely at the capitalist factory, we will see that not only the loom, but also money, yarn, and even the capacity to labour all serve at various points as particular incarnations of the owners’ capital. This is because capital is not a thing, but rather a definite set of social relations which belong to a definite historical period in human development, and which give the things enmeshed within theses relations their specific content as social objects. To understand Capital, one must therefore decipher its character as a social relation.“

This statement clarifies Marx fundamental relational approach to social phenomena. For Marx, as he clarifies in his ‘Die Grundrisse’ (1858/1971: 77) (quoted in Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992):

„Society does not consist of individuals; it expresses the sum of connections and relationships in which individuals find themselves.“

-llman (1976: 14) has shown that the relation is the irreducible minimum for all units in Marx’s conception of reality. To see capital as a social relation is part of an encompassing strategy showing that the economic theory of a market society can be turned back against itself to introduce a society which would be based upon different principles. Thus we do better understand the subtitle of Marx’s work ‘Das Kapital – Kritik der Politischen Ökonomie’ [Capital – A Critique of Political Economy] (Giddens, 1998).

Pierre Bourdieu has taken up this methodological relationalism in his work. For him social capital is the sum of the resources, actual or virtual, that accrue to an individual or a group by virtue of possessing a durable network of more or less institutionalised relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition (Bourdieu, 1992: 119).[32]

In Coleman’s view is social capital defined by its function. It is not a single entity but a variety of different entities having two characteristics in common: They all consist of some aspect of social structure (e.g. networks and norms), and they facilitate certain actions of individuals who are within the structure (social structure as enablement). Unlike other forms of capital, social capital inheres in the structure of relations between persons and among persons (Coleman, 1990: 302). To posses social capital, a person must be related to others, and it is those others, not himself, who are the actual source of his or her advantage. Coleman’s conceptualisation of social capital embeds the rational actor in social structure. But his action theoretical approach neglects the impediment character of social structure which stood at the origin of the Marxist analysis. Therefore Giddens synthesis of social structure as both as enablement and impediment seems to be the more balanced view (cf. Giddens theory of structuration, p. 65). In general we see a shift of emphasis away from conceptualising social structure as impediment towards stressing its character as enablement.


[1] In the following we will always use the male form for the third person singular, but this won’t exclude women. They are always included in this meaning.

[2] Economic efficiency requires that the marginal rates of transformation between goods must be equal for all producers, that the marginal rates of substitution in consumption must be equal for all consumers and that the marginal rates of transformation in production is equal the marginal rates of substitution in consumption. The market price serves to bring about the conditions of efficiency by meditating all the individuals’ productive and consumptive decisions. Thus in a free-market economy, the forces of supply and demand will bring about a set of equilibrium prices that lead individuals to meet the conditions of efficient production, efficient consumption, and efficient balance of production and consumption (Hirshleifer, 1988: 468f).

[3] For example, sex serves reproduction, yet animals engage in it without the slightest notion of its function. They are not driven by any desire to reproduce, only by sexual urges (as are humans most of the time).

[4] In the language of game theory, the strategy-pair ‘defect, defect’ is called Nash solution for this game. It is an equilibrium since, once the choices are made, neither party has any motive to change his action. Each is doing the best he can for himself, given the decision of the other (Hirshleifer, 1988: 284).

[5] Unlike the Prisoner’s Dilemma, neither the Assurance nor the Chicken Game has a dominant strategy. In the latter two games the partner’s choice is crucial in determining one’s best outcome.

[6] Other more exotic orientations are sado-masochism, martyrdom, etc.

[7] Fukuyama attacks in his famous article ‘The End of History’ (1989) the ‘Wall Street Journal school’ of deterministic materialism. Their intellectual weight is such that not a single respectable contemporary theory of economic development addresses consciousness and culture seriously as the matrix within which economic behaviour is formed (Fukuyama, 1989: 7).

But to be honest we must admit that most economists who want to subordinate politics under the logic of the market have been aware of their limits. Cf. e.g. Downs, the father of modern public choice theory, in his 1962 article ‘The Public Interest: Its Meaning in a Democracy’. And in recent years James Buchanan - the man who suggested to think of the state as a market (Buchanan, 1954) - has started to warn not to forget the moral dimension, the ethical preferences (Buchanan, 1994: 133).

[8] The search for the heart of a heartless world can be seen as laying at the origins of the socialist project. Marx argues that we are living in a society which is created by humans but which is not humane - alienated. Religion was for Marx the opium of the people. But he thought that the values inherent in religion can be humanised (Giddens, 1998).

[9] In America libertarians have found rescue to other moral foundations: fundamentalistic evangelism and/or Social Darwinism.

[10] Prof. B. De Giovanni, then chairman of the Committee on Institutional Affairs of the European Parliament and member of the Group of the Party of European Socialists, denounces the present situation as the dictate of ‘la pansée unique’ (personal interview, Brussels, 27/5/98).

[11] Liberal philosophers, like Hobbs, Locke and Rousseau have another starting point. For them man in the ‘state of nature’ is as an isolated individual (Fukuyama, 1999: 151,165). For example according to Rousseau ‘l’homme naturel’ has lived in simple, uniform and isolated conditions (Rousseau, 1755/1997: 88). He was ‘good’ until he became socialised. A modern sociobiologist, like de Waal (1996), sees man from its beginning as a social animal living in the ‘social cage’ with natural inequalities, but also with an innate moral sense. Already Rousseau recognised natural inequalities but to a lesser degree. In his book ‘Discours sur l’origine et les fondements de l’inégalité parmi les hommes’ (1755) he distinguishes two sorts of inequalities - natural and socially constructed inequality. He explains how education, the division of labour and property rights increase socially constructed inequality.

[12] All men have a heart xin, which does not allow them to accept suffering of others. Who does not have the feeling of right and wrong, is not a human being. The feeling of sympathy is the starting point of humanity ren (Roetz, 1992: 322).

[13] Smith quotations taken from Sen, 1994 and Reisman, 1998.

[14] Piliavin and Charng (1990) give a review of recent research into altruism. The altruistic impulse does exist. But to what extent this altruism is encoded in the genes, inculcated through socialisation, or based on social norms needs further research.

[15] Darwin has struggled more with the moral implications of Malthus evolutionary ideas. As we have seen he stressed the importance of sympathy. But he could not prevent his theory from being incorporated into a closed system of thought (so called ‘Social Darwinism’) in which there is little room for compassion. It was taken to its extreme by Herbert Spencer. According to Spencer the pursuit of self-interest, the lifeblood of society, creates progress for the strong at the expense of the inferior and existing social stratification reflects a natural hierarchy of abilities (de Waal, 1996: 11, Fukuyama, 1999: 156).

[16] The work’s larger philosophical ambition was to dispute the radical progressivism of Godwin and Condorcet, its immediate aim was to oppose legislation to change the Poor Laws in Great Britain that would make welfare payments proportional to family size.

[17] “Those who use the term as one of reproach ascribe self-love to people who assign to themselves the greater share of wealth, honours, and bodily pleasures; for these are what most people desire, and busy themselves about as though they were the best of all things, which is the reason, too, why they become object of competition. [...] It is just, that men who are lovers of self in this way are reproached for being so. [...] For if a man were always anxious that he himself, above all things, should act justly, temperately, or in accordance with any other of the excellences, and in general were always to try to secure for himself the honourable course, no one will call such a man a lover of self or blame him” (Aristotle, IX 8 1168b 15-28).

[18] Here we have in onset the first element of Rawls’ idea of a just society which is built on a ‘reflexive equilibrium’. The well-ordered society fosters moral learning. (c.f. later discussion pp. 35-39).

[19] Putnam (1993: 172) distinguishes two sorts of reciprocity: balanced or (specific) and generalised or (diffused). Balanced reciprocity refers to a simultaneous exchange of items of equivalent value, such as gifts, while generalised reciprocity is in a continuing relationship of exchange which is at any given time out of balance but involves the element of mutual expectations that a benefit granted now should be repaid in the future. Friendship, for example, can be seen as a relationship that almost always involves reciprocity.

The norm of generalised reciprocity constitutes a highly productive component of social capital. Communities in which this norm is followed can more efficiently restrain opportunism and resolve problems of collective action by reconciling solidarity and self interest. An efficient norm of generalised reciprocity is likely to be associated with dense networks of social exchange, while, conversely, repeated exchange over a period of time tends to encourage the development of the norm of generalised reciprocity.

[20] This is the so called ‘difference principle’.

[21] But we think, that having understood that the present social order is the result of an arational evolutionary process shouldn’t mean that there is no room left for constructivist improvement. Path dependency by the past can lead to long-term persistence of socially inefficient organisations (North, 1990). Therefore there is room to think collectively in the form of a free discourse about ways of how to reasonably improve the world.

[22] When other people see that we are not living up to our own sense of self-esteem, we feel shame; and when we are evaluated justly (i.e., in proportion to our true worth), we feel pride (Fukuyama, for precise quotation see below).

[23] Modern motivational psychology assumes that, besides such primary instincts like hunger or sexuality, man has an important urge for recognition, social contact and curiosity.

[24] Rousseau distinguishes the natural, healthy ‘amour-de-soi’ (‘self-interest’) from ‘amour-propre (‘selfishness’) and vanity. This ‘amour-propre’ emerged only with the development of civilisation and the invention of private property.

[25] “La pitié est un sentiment naturel, qui modérant dans chaque individu l’activité de l’amour de soi même, concourt à la conservation mutuelle de toute l’espéce. [...] C’est elle qui, au lieu de cette maxime sublime de justice raisonnée; Fais à autrui comme tu veux qu’on to fasse [‘golden rule’], inspire à tous les Hommes cette autre maxime de bonté naturelle bien moins parfaite, mais plus utile peut-être que la précedente. Fais ton bien avec le moindre mal d’autrui qu’il est possible.” (Rousseau, 1755/1997: 150).

[26] In the same year he also writes a book on education (‘Émile’, 1762) where he tries to show how a child could be brought up free of the aggressive desire to dominate others. Instead that child can be caused to want to cooperate with others on a footing of mutual respect. How important mutual respect is and how domination and to much inequality can lead to sickness shows a medical scientist like Wilkinson (1999) (cf. pp. 151).

[27] It is the same view as Freud took up in his ‘Das Unbehagen in der Zivilisation’ (1929). Freud argues that we need to control and renounce our baser instincts before we can build a modern society. Human life - in this view - is fundamentally dualistic. We soar somewhere between heaven and earth on a ‘good’ wing - an acquired sense of ethics and justice - and a ‘bad’ wing - a deeply rooted egoism (de Waal, 1996: 17).

[28] This position is similar to what Kant concludes in his ‘Zum Ewigen Frieden’ (1795: 8.366-368).

[29] For a recent outline of federalist, personalist philosophy cf. Kinsky (1998).

[30]Fédérer ce n’est pas mettre en ordre d’après un plan géometrique à partir d’un axe; fédérer c’est tout simplement arranger ensemble.

[31] Granovetter (1985) investigates the extent to which economic action is ‘embedded’ in structures of social relations.

[32] But unlike the neoclassical definition of capital which stresses the prospective usefulness of capital for the future, Bourdieu adheres to the old classic theory of value. For him ‘capital is accumulated labour’ (Bourdieu, 1992: 118).

244 of 244 pages


A reformed European model
Social capital as competitive advantage
University of Zurich  (Soziologisches Institut)
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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1324 KB
Laudatio von Prof. V. Bornschier: Theoretisch und empirisch sehr innovativ und mit ausgeprägter Forscherfreude, sowie grossem interdisziplinärem Verständnis verfasst.
European Integration, Social Capital, Competitiveness, Federalism, Cooperation and Morality, Growth Theory, Reform of the Welfare State, Globalisation, Sociology, Economics, Politics
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Dr. phil. Michael Leicht (Author), 2000, A reformed European model, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/85831


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