, Volume 191, Issue 9, pp 1957-1974

The cognitive attitude of rational trust

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Abstract

I provide an account of the cognitive attitude of trust that explains the role trust plays in the planning of rational agents. Many authors have dismissed choosing to trust as either impossible or irrational; however, this fails to account for the role of trust in practical reasoning. A can have therapeutic, coping, or corrective reasons to trust B to \({\phi}\) , even in the absence of evidence that B will \({\phi}\) . One can choose to engage in therapeutic trust to inspire trustworthiness, coping trust to simplify one’s planning, or corrective trust to avoid doing a testimonial injustice. To accommodate such types of trust, without accepting doxastic voluntarism, requires an account of the cognitive attitude of trust broader than belief alone. I argue that trust involves taking the proposition that someone will do something as a premise in one’s practical reasoning, which can be a matter of believing or accepting the proposition. I defend this account against objections that it (i) provides insufficient rational constraints on trust, (ii) conflates trust and pretense of trust, and (iii) cannot account for the rationality of back-up planning.