On the Risks of Resting Assured: An Assurance Theory of Trust

In Tom Simpson Paul Faulkner (ed.), New Philosophical Essays on Trust. Oxford University Press (2017)
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Abstract

An assurance theory of trust begins from the act of assurance – whether testimonial, advisorial or promissory – and explains trust as a cognate stance of resting assured. My version emphasizes the risks and rewards of trust. On trust’s rewards, I show how an assurance can give a reason to the addressee through a twofold exercise of ‘normative powers’: (i) the speaker thereby incurs an obligation to be sincere; (ii) if the speaker is trustworthy, she thereby gives her addressee the reason. Each claim is controversial; my contribution lies in how I defend them together, linking the sincerity obligation to the provision of reasons. On trust’s risks, I defend a popular thesis about the nature of trust – that trust differs from mere reliance in how it risks betrayal – against the objection that the thesis ‘moralizes’ trust. Such betrayal need not be moral, I argue, because it may derive entirely from how the assurance purports to provide a reason.

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Edward Hinchman
Florida State University

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