Much of what is good and civic in society rests on trust. But when we consider how this is so, it becomes important to draw distinctions between kinds of trust, and the different locations of trust in society. And these distinctions are too infrequently drawn: a recent review of empirical work on trust observed that this work does not tend to proceed from a clear idea of what trust is, and this lack of clarity is compounded by theoretical disagreement as to the nature of trust.
This paper starts from a theory of trust that makes good sense of differing accounts of trust, and philosophically supports Uslaner’s distinctions between strategic and moralistic trust on the one hand, and particularized and generalized trust on the other. It then applies these distinctions to offer a philosophical map of trust as it is found in the liberal democracies. Specifically, it aims to consider the trust that is found between citizens, and between citizens and government that is both a precondition and cause of well-functioning civic society. This map of trust then determines the range of epistemic reasons that one can have for believing that citizens and government will do what they are trusted to do.
Paul Faulkner teaches at the Philosophy Department at the University of Sheffield, and works primarily on testimony and trust. He is the co-editor of The Philosophy of Trust (OUP 2017) and author of Knowledge on Trust (OUP 2011).
This event is part of the Aspects of Conservatism series exploring elements of a conservative outlook in more detail. The series is convened by Tom Simpson, Associate Professor of Philosophy & Public Policy, Blavatnik School of Government, and Senior Research Fellow, Wadham College, University of Oxford.