Analytic Philosophy Colloquium: Rik Peels (VU Amsterdam) - 'Is Trusting Someone Up to Us?'

Rik Peels (VU Amsterdam) will give a talk entitled 'Is Trusting Someone Up to Us?' at the Analytic Philosophy Colloquium.

Abstract: Trust is an attitude that can be rational and that has much epistemic, moral and social value. Therefore, whether or not we can choose to trust is crucially important. Some philosophers claim that we can, whereas other deny this. In this lecture, I explore to what extent we can choose to trust someone.

I first argue that one cannot appeal to the property of reasons-responsiveness that trust, like belief, has in order to explain the phenomenology of voluntariness. After that, I point out that there are at least two important constraints on the voluntariness of trust: you cannot trust some other person X to φ if you have no reason whatsoever to think that X will φ or if you have virtually perfect evidence that X will φ, and you cannot trust X to φ if whether or not X φ-s has no relevance for you or anyone else.

Subsequently, I argue that there are three ways in which we can often choose to trust. First, whether or not we rely on X to φ is frequently the result of a direct or indirect choice. Second, we often have indirect control over or influence on evidence regarding whether X will φ. Third, sometimes, by choosing to trust, we make it the case that X is trustworthy when it comes to φ-ing, that is, sufficiently trustworthy to be able to trust X.

Finally, I explain why one need not control all constitutive elements of trust in order for it to be up to us whether or not we trust someone.