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Edited by Luigino Bruni and Pier Luigi Porta
Chapter 15: The Not-So-Fragile Fragility of Goodness: The Responsive Quality of Fiduciary Relationships
15 The not-so-fragile fragility of goodness: the responsive quality of ﬁduciary relationships Vittorio Pelligra* This word ‘ﬁdes’, means ‘rope’ which binds and links us together. (A. Genovesi 1770 [1924: 148]) The advantage of humankind of being able to trust one another, penetrates into every crevice and cranny of human life: the economical is perhaps the smallest part of it, yet even this is incalculable. (J.S. Mill 1848: 131) 1. Introduction In 1986, Martha Nussbaum developed her well-known argument of the socalled ‘fragility of goodness’ (Nussbaum 1986). According to her reading of Aristotle’s theory of eudaimonia (meaning ‘human ﬂourishing’, an enlarged view of ‘happiness’), the pursuit of the good life, which ultimately leads to happiness, is doomed to be subject to the will of fate. Since, in fact, one of the constitutive elements of such an enterprise is the possibility of building meaningful interpersonal relationships, and the quality of such relationships is necessarily a function of others’ behaviour and such a behaviour is, in turn, out of the control of the subject itself, our own happiness is ultimately in others’ hands. That is one of the reasons why our own happiness has always been so strongly perceived as related to luck. However, a critical point in Nussbaum’s argument is that, while ego can only decide to open his/her life to the inﬂuence of alter before knowing whether such an inﬂuence will be positive or negative, that is to expose him/herself to the risk of opportunism, at the same time,...
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