The role of trust in knowledge

Journal of Philosophy 88 (12):693-708 (1991)
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Most traditional epistemologists see trust and knowledge as deeply antithetical: we cannot know by trusting in the opinions of others; knowledge must be based on evidence, not mere trust. I argue that this is badly mistaken. Modern knowers cannot be independent and self-reliant. In most disciplines, those who do not trust cannot know. Trust is thus often more epistemically basic than empirical evidence or logical argument, for the evidence and the argument are available only through trust. Finally, since the reliability of testimonial evidence depends on the trustworthiness of the testifier, this implies that knowledge often rests on a foundation of ethics. The rationality of many of our beliefs depends not only on our own character, but on the character of others.
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