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This is an important feature of personal and social relationships which brings benefits but also renders parties vulnerable. A trusts B if s/he has confidence that s/he can depend on B is some respect. At base it involves an expectation of reliability and in that sense can be used of materials and artifacts as well as of animals and people: trusting the water (not to be poisonous), trusting the bridge (not to collapse), trusting the dog (not to become violent), trusting the plumber (to do the work properly. But in its most significant uses it involves judging that someone has a moral quality of honesty, conscience, which one can depend upon and which ensures their reliability. The benefits of trust are obvious both practically and in building mutual relationships, but it also exposes parties to the risk of being let down or betrayed in which they may be worse off that than they would have been if they had not invested their trust. The topic has come to the fore in recent discussion of professional groups and social and political institutions with the exposure of abuses and scandals causing a crisis of (mis)trust.
— Onora O'Neill Reith Lectures 2002: A Question of Trust Lecture 1: Spreading Suspicion 1. 'Without Trust We Cannot Stand' Confucius told his disciple Tsze-kung that three things are needed for government: weapons, food and trust. If a ruler can't hold on to all three, he should give up the weapons first and the food next. Trust should be guarded to the end: "without trust we cannot stand". Confucius' thought still convinces. Weapons did not help the Taliban when their foot soldiers lost trust and deserted. Food shortages need not topple governments when they and their rationing systems are trusted, as we know from WWII. It isn't only rulers and governments who prize and need trust. Each of us and every profession and every institution needs trust. We need it because we have to be able to rely on others acting as they say that they will, and because we need others to accept that we will act as we say we will. The sociologist Niklas Luhman was right that 'A complete absence of trust would prevent [one] even getting up in the morning.' 2. The Crisis of Trust We may need trust, but trusting often seems hard and risky. Every day we read of untrustworthy action by politicians and officials, by hospitals and exam boards, by companies and schools. We supposedly face a deepening crisis of trust. Everyday we also read of aspirations and attempts to make business and professionals, public servants and politicians more accountable in more ways to more stakeholders. But can a revolution in accountability remedy our crisis of trust? Over these five weeks I shall discuss both the supposed crisis and the supposed remedies. I do so as an outsider. The experts and exponents of the crisis of trust are mainly sociologists and journalists: they've tried to find out whom we do and don't trust, in particular whom we say we do and don't trust. They have produced a lot of dispiriting evidence. Remedies are proposed on all sides: politicians and campaigning groups, academics and journalists advocate greater respect for human rights, higher standards of accountability and greater transparency. If these are really the remedies for the crisis of trust, we should surely be seeing some results by now. On the contrary, the accusations mount. I shall look at trust from a more philosophical but also (I hope) more practical standpoint: these (I believe) go together quite naturally. What does it take for us to place trust in others? What evidence do we need to place it well? Are human rights and democracy the basis for a society in which trust can be placed, or does trust need other conditions? Does the revolution in accountability support or possibly undermine trust? The common ground from which I begin is that we cannot have guarantees that everyone will keep trust. Elaborate measures to ensure that people keep agreements and do not betray trust must, in the end, be backed by --trust. At some point we just have to trust. There is, I think, no complete answer to the old question: 'who will guard the guardians?'. On the contrary, trust is needed precisely because all guarantees are incomplete. Guarantees are useless unless they lead to a trusted source, and a regress of guarantees is no better for being longer unless it ends in a trusted source. So trust cannot presuppose or require a watertight guarantee of others' performance, and cannot rationally be withheld just because we lack guarantees. Where we have guarantees or proofs, we don't need to trust. Trust is redundant. We don't need to take it on trust that 5 x 11= 55, or that we are alive, or that each of us was born of a human mother or that the sun rose this morning. Since trust has to be placed without guarantees, it is inevitably sometimes misplaced: others let us down and we let others down. When this happens trust and relationships based on trust are both damaged. Trust, it is constantly observed, is hard earned and easily dissipated. It is valuable social capital and not to be squandered. If there are no guarantees to be had, we need to place trust with care. This can be hard. The little shepherd boy who shouted 'Wolf! Wolf!' eventually lost his sheep, but we note not before his false alarms had deceived others time and again. Deception and betrayal often work. Traitors and terrorists, embezzlers and con artists, forgers and plagiarists, false promisers and free riders cultivate then breach others' trust. They often get away with it. Breach of trust has been around since the Garden of Eden-- although it did not quite work out there. Now it is more varied and more ingenious, and often successful. Although we cannot curse those who breach trust, or not in that effective way let alone expel them from paradise, we take elaborate steps to deter and prevent deception and fraud: we set and enforce high standards. Human rights requirements are imposed on the law, on institutions, on all of us. Contracts clarify and formalise agreements and undertakings with ever-greater precision. Professional codes define professional responsibilities with ever-greater accuracy. Huge efforts also go into ensuring trustworthy performance. Auditors scrutinise accounts (but are they trustworthy?). Examiners control and mark examinees (but are they trustworthy?). The police investigate crimes (but are they trustworthy?). Increasingly sophisticated technologies are deployed to prevent and detect breaches of trust, ranging from locks and safes, passwords and identity cards, to CCTV cameras and onto the most elaborate encryption. The efforts to prevent abuse of trust are gigantic, relentless and expensive; and inevitably their results are always less than perfect. Have these countermeasures begun to restore trust, or to reduce suspicion? Sociologists and journalists report few signs. They claim that we are in the grip of a deepening crisis of public trust directed even at our most familiar institutions and office-holders. Mistrust, it seems is now directed not just at those clearly in breach of law and accepted standards, not just at crooks and wide boys. Mistrust and suspicion have spread across all areas of life, and supposedly with good reason. Citizens, it is said, no longer trust governments, or politicians, or ministers, or the police, or the courts, or the prison service. Consumers, it is said, no longer trust business, especially big business, or their products. None of us, it is said, trusts banks, or insurers, or pension providers. Patients, it is said, no longer trust doctors (think of Dr Shipman!), and in particular no longer trust hospitals or hospital consultants. 'Loss of trust' is in short, a cliché of our times. How good is the evidence for this crisis of trust? A lot of the most systematic evidence for the UK can be found in public opinion polls and similar academic research. The pollsters ask carefully controlled cross-sections of the public whether they trust certain professions or office-holders. The questions aren't easy to answer. Most of us would want to say that we trust some but not other professionals, some but not other office-holders, in some matters but not in others. I might trust a schoolteacher to teach my child arithmetic but not citizenship. I might trust my GP to diagnose and prescribe for a sore throat, but not for a heart attack. I might trust my bank with my current account, but not with my life savings. In answering the pollsters we suppress the complexity of our real judgements, smooth out the careful distinctions we draw between different individuals and institutions, and average our judgements about their trustworthiness in different activities. We depend on journalists for our knowledge of the results of these polls and the levels of reported public trust. There is some irony in this, since these polls repeatedly show that no profession is less trusted in the UK than journalism. Sorry! Journalists -- at least newspaper journalists -- are typically less trusted than politicians and ministers, much less trusted than scientists and civil servants, and dramatically less trusted than judges, or ministers of religion or doctors. Of course, the public also draws distinctions within these categories. Nurses and GPs are more trusted than hospital consultants; university scientists are more trusted than industry scientists; television news presenters are more trusted than newspaper journalists. Often newspaper reports of public opinion highlight the most dramatic statistic, typically the one that suggests the most extreme distrust. They seldom comment on the ambiguities of the questions or the categories, or linger on cases where trust is average or above average or high. 3. Active Trust The polls supposedly show that in the UK public trust in office-holders and professionals of many sorts is low and declining. They certainly reveal a mood of suspicion. But do they show anything more? Are the opinions we divulge to pollsters backed up by the ways in which we actively place our trust in others, and specifically by the way that we place it, or refuse to place it, in public servants, or professionals and institutions? Much of the evidence of the way we actively place our trust seems to me to point in quite different directions. We constantly place trust in others, in members of professions and in institutions. Nearly all of us drink water provided by water companies and eat food sold in supermarkets and produced by ordinary farming practices. Nearly all of us use the roads (and, even more rationally, the trains!). Nearly all of us listen to the news and buy newspapers. Even if we have some misgivings, we go on placing trust in medicines produced by the pharmaceutical industry, in operations performed in NHS hospitals, in the delivery of letters by the post office, and in roads that we share with many notably imperfect drivers. We constantly place active trust in many others. Does action speak louder than words? Are the ways we actually place our trust a more accurate gauge of trust than our comments to pollsters? If we were really as mistrusting as some of us tell the pollsters, would we behave like this? We might do so if we had no options. Perhaps the fact of the matter is that we simply have to rely on institutions and persons although we don't really trust them. In many of these examples, it may seem, we have little choice. How can we avoid tap water, even if we mistrust the water companies, since it is the only ready source of supply? How can we avoid conventional medicines, even if we mistrust the pharmaceutical industry, since there are no effective and available alternatives? How can we avoid the news as represented or (mis)represented, if we have no other sources? But are these thoughts really convincing? Those who seriously mistrust producers and suppliers of consumer goods can and do refuse to rely on them. Those who really mistrust the tap water drink bottled water, or boil it, or use water purification tablets: where water supplies are seriously questionable people do so. Those who really mistrust the pharmaceutical industry and its products can refuse them and choose to rely on alternative, more natural, remedies and some people do so, but not many. Those who really mistrust the newspapers can stop buying them-although this may not put them wholly beyond the reach of the opinions, 'stories' and attitudes that journalists purvey. Those who really mistrust the standards of food safety of conventional agriculture, food processing, shops and restaurants can eat organically grown food: it may cost more, but is less expensive than convenience foods and eating out. Where people have options we can tell whether they really mistrust by seeing whether they put their money where they put their mouths. The evidence suggests that we still constantly place trust in many of the institutions and professions that we profess to not to trust. Evidence for trust or mistrust is less clear when opting out is hard or impossible. There is no way of opting out of public goods-or public harms. We have to breathe the ambient air we share-even if we don't trust standards for monitoring air pollution. We can't help relying on the police to protect us, since they have a monopoly of law enforcement-even if we are suspicious of them. We cannot opt out of government, or the legal system, or the currency even if we have misgivings. What should we think when people say they do not trust the providers and suppliers of public goods and services on which they have to rely? It seems to me that where people have no choice, their action provides poor evidence that they trust-and poor evidence that they mistrust. Where we have no choice, the only evidence of mistrust is what people say. But we know from cases where they have choice that this can be unreliable evidence. If what we say is unreliable evidence when we have choices, why should we think it reliable evidence when we have no choices? Expressions of mistrust that are divorced from action come cheap: we can assert and rescind, flaunt or change, defend or drop attitudes and expressions of mistrust without changing the way we live. This may show something about indeed rather a lot attitudes of suspicion, but little or nothing about where we actually place our trust. 4. Trust and Risk So is there other evidence for a crisis of trust? Do we trust less today, or are we just more inclined to spread suspicion? Are current levels of mistrust greater than those of the past? Adequate evidence for a new crisis of trust must do more than point to some untrustworthy doctors and scientists, some untrustworthy companies or politicians, some untrustworthy fraudsters or colleagues. There have always been breaches of trust, and examples alone can't show we are living amid a new or a deeper crisis of trust. Some sociologists have suggested that the crisis of trust is real and new because we live in a risk society. We do live among highly complex institutions and practices whose effects we cannot control or understand, and supposedly see ourselves as subject to hidden and incomprehensible sources of risk. It's true that individuals can do little or nothing to avert environmental risks, or nuclear accidents, or terrorist attacks. All this is true, but not new. The harms and hazards modern societies impose differ from those in traditional societies. But there is nothing new about inability to reduce risk, about ignorance of its sources, or about not being able to opt out. Those who saw their children die of tuberculosis in the nineteenth century those who could do nothing to avert swarming locusts or galloping infectious disease, and those who struggled with sporadic food shortage and fuel poverty throughout history might be astonished to discover that anyone thinks that we rather than they live in a risk society. So might those in the developing world who live with chronic food scarcity or drought, endemic corruption or lack of security. If the developed world is the paradigm of a 'risk society', risk societies must be characterised simply by their perceptions of and attitudes to risk, and not by the seriousness of the hazards to which people are exposed, or the likelihood that those hazards will actually harm them. So is the current supposed crisis of trust just a public mood or attitude of suspicion, rather than a proper and justified response to growing untrustworthiness? Those who speak and write of a 'crisis of trust' generally assume that we have justifiably stopped trusting because they are less trustworthy. I hope I have shown that the evidence for this claim is pretty mixed. Of course, today as always there are plenty of examples of untrustworthy individuals, including officials, professionals and politicians. But examples do not show that there is on balance more untrustworthy behaviour today than there was in the past. Nothing follows from examples of sporadic untrustworthiness, however flamboyant, except the sober truth that today--as always-- not everybody is fully trustworthy and trust must be placed with care. Without the full range of evidence-- including full evidence of trustworthy action-- we cannot draw sound conclusions about a new or a deepening crisis of trust. Unless we take account of the good news of trustworthiness as well as the bad news of untrustworthiness, we won't know whether we have a crisis of trust or only a culture of suspicion. In my view it isn't surprising that if we persist in viewing good news as no news at all, we end up viewing no news at all as good news. The crisis of trust may be an article of faith: but where is our evidence for it?
— Trust ANNETTE C. BAIER THE TANNER LECTURES ON HUMAN VALUES Delivered at Princeton University March 6-8, 1991 ANNETTE C. BAIER is Professor of Philosophy at the Uni- versity of Pittsburgh. She was born and educated in New Zealand and studied philosophy at Otago University. Post- graduate study at Oxford was followed by teaching positions at the Universities of Aberdeen, Auckland, and Sydney and the Carnegie-Mellon University. She has published a volume of essays, Postures of the Mind (1985), and A Progress of Sentiments: Reflections on Hume's Treatise (1991). She sees her recent work on trust as growing not only out of her philosophical reading but also out of her experience of living in a variety of cultural settings and climates of trust. 1. TR?UST AND ITS VULNERABILITIES* They fle from me that sometyme did me seek With naked fote stalking in my chambre I have seen them gentill tame and meke That nowe are wyld and do not remembre That sometyme they put theimself in daunger To take bred at my hand . . . Sir Thomas Wyatt Most of us are tame enough to take bread at someone's hand. And we do thereby put ourselves in danger. So why do we do it? What bread is good enough to tempt us into the hands of possibly dangerous people tamers? Or do we simply prefer being gentle, tame, and meek? Trust in trustworthy people to do their more or less willing and more or less competent bit in some worthwhile cooperative enterprise whose benefits are fairly shared among all the cooperators is to most of us an obviously good thing, and not just because we get better bread that way. The only ones who might dissent from the value of trust are those "wild" loners who value their independence more than anything else, who prefer to * The original titles of these two Tanner lectures were "The Pathologies of Trust" and "Appropriate Trust." I was greatly helped in revising the lectures by the prepared comments of Francine du Plessix Gray, Geoffrey Hawthorn, Thomas M. Scanlon, Jr., and David Shipler when I gave the lectures; by suggestions from the audience; by later discussion with Princeton University faculty and students; and by subsequent correspondence with Sarah Buss, Pamela Foa, Richard Moran, and Thomas Scanlon. The revisions were made at the Rockefeller Study Center, Bellagio, Italy, and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to enjoy the beauty, peace, and good company to be found there. The peace was also instructive for my study of trust, since our idyllic headland was protected, during most of my stay there, by an armed guard. Italian soldiers with machine guns patrolled the grounds and guarded the entrances against perceived terrorist threats. So our easy mutual trust, within our sanctuary, had as its exterior face an apparent distrust for all outsiders. I am pleased to report that by the time I left, the perceived danger, and with it the guard, had gone.  110 The Tanner Lectures on Human Values get their bread baked by solo efforts, rather than to join with others in any sort of joint scheme. To such extreme individualists my lectures will have nothing persuasive to say. Most of us are fairly tame, and what John Locke said is true of us: "We live upon trust. ."¹ But we do not always live well, upon trust. Sometimes, like Elizabeth I of England, we have to report "In trust I found treason," or, less regally, betrayal, or, even less pompously, let- down.2 Trust is a notoriously vulnerable good, easily wounded and not at all easily healed. Trust is not always a good, to be preserved. There must be some worthwhile enterprise in which the trusting and trusted par- ties are involved, some good bread being kneaded, for trust to be a good thing. If the enterprise is evil, a producer of poisons, then the trust that improves its workings will also be evil, and decent people will want to destroy, not to protect, that form of trust. A death squad may consist of wholly trustworthy and, for a while at least, sensibly trusting coworkers. So the first thing to be checked, if our trust is to become self-conscious, is the nature of the enter- prise whose workings are smoothed by merited trust. Even when the enterprise is a benign one, it is frequently one that does not fairly distribute the jobs and benefits that are at its disposal. A reminder of the sorry sexist history of marriage as an institution aiming at providing children with proper parental care should be enough to convince us that mutual trust and mutual trustworthiness in a good cause can coexist with the oppression and exploitation of at least half the trusting and trusted partners. Business firms whose exploitation of workers is sugarcoated by a paternalistic show of concern for them and the maintenance of a cozy familial atmosphere of mutual trust are an equally good 1 The Correspondence of John Locke, ed. E. S. de Beer, vol. 1 (Oxford: Claren- don Press, 1976), p. 122. 2 Geoffrey Hawthorn quotes these words of Elizabeth to Parliament in 1596 in his essay "Three Ironies of Trust," in Trust: Making and Breaking Cooperative Relations, ed. Diego Gambetta (New York: Basil Blackwell, 1988), p. 115. 111 [BAIER] Trust example. Trust can coexist, and has long coexisted, with contrived and perpetuated inequality. That may well explain and to some extent justify the distrust that many decent vigilant people display toward any attempt to reinstate a climate of trust as a social and moral good. Like most goods, a climate of trust is a risky thing to set one's sights on.3 What we risk are not just mutually lethal betrayals and breakdowns of trust, but exploitation that may be unnoticed for long periods because it is bland and friendly. The friendly atmosphere - the feeling of trust is of course a pleas- ant thing, and itself a good, as long as it is not masking an evil. Trust and distrust are feelings, but like many feelings they are what Hume called "impressions of reflexion," feeling responses to how we take our situation to be. The relevant "situation" is our position as regards what matters to us, how well or badly things are going for us. The pleasant feeling that others are with us in our endeavors, that they will help, not hinder, us, and the unpleas- antly anxious feeling that others may be plotting our downfall or simply that their intentions are inscrutable, so that we do not know what to expect, are the surface phenomena of trust and distrust. This surface is part of the real good of genuine trust, the real evil of suspicion and distrust. But beneath the surface is what that sur- face purports to show us: namely, others' attitudes and intentions toward us, their good (or their ill) will. The belief that their will is good is itself a good, not merely instrumentally but in itself, and the pleasure we take in that belief is no mere pleasure but part of an important good. Trust is one of those mental phenomena atten- tion to which shows us the inadequacy of attempting to classify mental phenomena into the "cognitive," the "affective," and the "conative." Trust, if it is any of these, is all three. It has its special “feel,” most easily acknowledged when it is missed, say, when one moves from a friendly, "safe" neighborhood to a tense, insecure 3 According to Niklas Luhmann, trust always involves some assessment and acceptance of risk, so that to call trust risky becomes pleonastic. See his essay "Fa- miliarity, Confidence, Trust: Problems and Alternatives," in Gambetta, Trust, p. 100.
— Why the social character of scientific knowledge makes it trustworthyAre doctors right when they tell us vaccines are safe? Should we take climate experts at their word when they warn us about the perils of global warming? Why should we trust science when so many of our political leaders don't? Naomi Oreskes offers a bold and compelling defense of science, revealing why the social character of scientific knowledge is its greatest strength—and the greatest reason we can trust it. Tracing the history and philosophy of science from the late nineteenth century to today, this timely and provocative book features a new preface by Oreskes and critical responses by climate experts Ottmar Edenhofer and Martin Kowarsch, political scientist Jon Krosnick, philosopher of science Marc Lange, and science historian Susan Lindee, as well as a foreword by political theorist Stephen Macedo.
— From the New York Times columnist and bestselling author of Bad Religion, a “clever and stimulating” (The New York Times Book Review) portrait of how our turbulent age is defined by dark forces seemingly beyond our control. The era of the coronavirus has tested America, and our leaders and institutions have conspicuously failed. That failure shouldn’t be surprising: Beneath social-media frenzy and reality-television politics, our era’s deep truths are elite incompetence, cultural exhaustion, and the flight from reality into fantasy. Casting a cold eye on these trends, The Decadent Society explains what happens when a powerful society ceases advancing—how the combination of wealth and technological proficiency with economic stagnation, political stalemate, and demographic decline creates a unique civilizational crisis. Ranging from the futility of our ideological debates to the repetitions of our pop culture, from the decline of sex and childbearing to the escapism of drug use, Ross Douthat argues that our age is defined by disappointment—by the feeling that all the frontiers are closed, that the paths forward lead only to the grave. Correcting both optimism and despair, Douthat provides an enlightening explanation of how we got here, how long our frustrations might last, and how, in renaissance or catastrophe, our decadence might ultimately end.
— The Annual DSPT Aquinas Lecture will be presented by Most Rev. Anthony Fisher, O.P., Archbishop of Sydney, Australia. It is widely agreed that trust is eroding, especially trust in major institutions and their leaders. Religious, political, governmental, justice, corporate and media institutions are less trusted today, and trust between individuals is also diminished. This plays out in many negative ways in people’s lives. In this lecture Archbishop Fisher will seek to unpack the “what, why, and how” of trust with the help of St Thomas Aquinas. In particular, he will identify three warrants of trust without which one party will not trust another. He will also examine some of Aquinas’ thinking on leadership, concluding with some thoughts on how best to address the contemporary loss of trust and crisis of leadership.
— "With increasingly divergent views and commitments, and an all-or-nothing mindset in political life, it can seem hard to sustain the level of trust in other members of our society necessary to ensure our most basic institutions work. This book features interdisciplinary perspectives on social trust. The contributors address four main topics related to social trust. The first topic is empirical and formal work on norms and institutional trust, especially the relationships between trust and human behaviour. The second topic concerns trust in particular institutions, notably the legal system, scientific community, and law enforcement. Third, the contributors address challenges posed by diversity and oppression in maintaining social trust. Finally, they discuss different forms of trust and social trust. Social Trust will be of interest to researchers in philosophy, political science, economics, law, psychology, and sociology"--