Norms of Trust

Paul Faulkner

in Social Epistemology

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199577477
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595189 | DOI:
Norms of Trust

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Should we tell other people the truth? Should we believe what other people tell us? This chapter argues that something like these norms of truth-telling and belief govern our production and receipt of testimony in conversational contexts. It then attempts to articulate these norms and determine their justification. More fully specified these norms prescribe that speakers tell the truth informatively, or be trustworthy, and that audiences presume that speakers do this, or trust. These norms of trust, as norms of conversational cooperation, would then seem to be justified on the basis of the interest that each has in the cooperative outcome. The norms of trust would then be justified as Lewisian conventions. However, the joint outcome prescribed by these norms is not an equilibrium point: a speaker always does better to have an audience's trust and the liberty to tell the truth or not as it suits. In this way, testimony presents a problem of trust. The justification of these norms of trust then starts from the recognition that any society that did not resolve this problem of trust would be stymied as a society. The resolution of this problem then requires securing the motivations characteristic of trusting and being trustworthy, where to have these motivations is to have an ethical outlook defined in terms of internalising these norms of trust. This justification is genealogical and it is one of value.

Keywords: conversational cooperation; genealogical justification; norms of trust; Lewisian conventions; testimony; trust; trustworthiness

Chapter.  10075 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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