I challenge the common view that trust is characteristically risky compared to distrust by drawing attention to the moral and epistemic risks of distrust. Distrust that is based in real fear yet fails to target ill will, lack of integrity, or incompetence, serves to marginalize and exclude individuals who have done nothing that would justify their marginalization or exclusion. I begin with a characterization of the suite of behaviors characteristic of trust and distrust. I then survey the epistemic and moral hazards of distrust, in particular, distrust’s propensity to bias interpretation, to perpetuate itself, to confirm itself, to dishonor, and to insult. Taking seriously these moral and epistemic hazards requires taking affirmative measures to respond to them. I elaborate one such response: “humble trust”. The practice of humble trust issues from skepticism about the warrant of one’s own felt attitudes of trust and distrust, curiosity about who might be unexpectedly responsive to trust and in which contexts, and commitment to abjure and to avoid distrust of the trustworthy. Humble trust enables individuals to trust that they will be trusted.
I’m giving a talk at Siena College on the topic of “Humble Trust” this afternoon at 4 pm. Sienna Hall, 4th floor.
I’ll be giving a talk alongside Karen Jones (Melbourne/Princeton) this Thursday at McGill. Details here: https://www.lecre.umontreal.ca/ai1ec_event/to-trust-or-not-to-trust/?instance_id=
For Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 I’ll be a visiting scholar and the Centre de recherche en éthique (CRE) at Université de Montréal where I’ll be working on a book on the moral psychology of trust and distrust.