, Volume 191, Issue 9, pp 1957–1974 | Cite as

The cognitive attitude of rational trust



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.


Trust Belief Acceptance Planning 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Baier A. (1984) Trust and antitrust. Ethics 96(2): 231–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baier A. (1994) Moral prejudices. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  3. Baier A. (2007) Trust, suffering, and the Aesculapian virtues. In: Walker R. L., Ivanhoe P. J. (eds) Working virtue: Virtue ethics and contemporary moral problems. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  4. Baker J. (1987) Trust and rationality. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 68(10): 1–13Google Scholar
  5. Barber B. (1983) The logic and limits of trust. New Rutgers University Press, Brunswick, NJGoogle Scholar
  6. Bratman M. (1992) Practical reasoning and acceptance in a context. Mind 101(401): 1–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cohen L. J. (1989) Belief and acceptance. Mind 98(391): 367–389CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cohen L. J. (1992) An essay on belief and acceptance. Clarendon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  9. Daukas N. (2006) Epistemic trust and social location. Episteme 3(1–2): 109–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Engel P. (2000) Believing and accepting. Kluwer, BostonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Faulkner P. (2007) A genealogy of trust. Episteme 4(3): 305–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Faulkner P. (2011) Knowledge on trust. Oxford University Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fricker M. (2007) Epistemic injustice: Power & the ethics of knowing. Oxford University Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Giddens A. (1990) The consequences of modernity. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CAGoogle Scholar
  15. Ginet C. (2001) Deciding to believe. In: Steup M. (ed) Knowledge, truth and duty. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  16. Hardin R. (2002) Trust and trustworthiness. Russell Sage Foundation, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  17. Hardwig J. (1985) Epistemic dependence. Journal of Philosophy 82(7): 335–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hardwig J. (1991) The role of trust in knowledge. Journal of Philosophy 88(12): 693–708CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hieronymi P. (2008) The reasons of trust. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86(2): 1–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Holton R. (1994) Deciding to trust, coming to believe. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 72(1): 63–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jones K. (1996) Trust as an affective attitude. Ethics 107(1): 4–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jones K. (2002) The politics of credibility. In: Antony L. M., Witt C. E. (eds) A mind of one’s own: Feminist essays on reason and objectivity. Westview Press, Boulder, COGoogle Scholar
  23. Jones K. (2004) Trust and terror. In: DesAutels P., Walker M. U. (eds) Moral psychology: Feminist ethics and social theory. Rowman & Littlefield, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  24. Kelly D., Roeddert E. (2008) Racial cognition and the ethics of implicit bias. Philosophy Compass 3(3): 522–540CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lehrer K. (1979) The Gettier problem and the analysis of knowledge. In: Pappas G. S. (ed) Justification and knowledge. Reidel, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  26. McGeer V. (2008) Trust, hope and empowerment. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86(2): 1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. McLeod C. (2002) Self-trust and reproductive autonomy. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  28. Nagel J. (2010) Epistemic anxiety and adaptive invariantism. Philosophical Perspectives 24(1): 407–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Pellegrino E., Veatch R., Langan J. (1991) Ethics, trust, and the professions. Georgetown University Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  30. Perry J. (1980) Belief and acceptance. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 5(1): 533–542CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Pettit P. (1995) The cunning of trust. Philosophy & Public Affairs 24(3): 202–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Potter N. (2002) How can I be trusted? A virtue theory of trustworthiness. Rowman & Littlefield, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  33. Project Implicit Information Website. (n.d.). Retrieved January 23, 2012, from
  34. Scheman N. (2001) Epistemology resuscitated: Objectivity as trustworthiness. In: Tuana N., Morgen S. (eds) Engendering rationalities. State University of New York Press, Albany, NYGoogle Scholar
  35. van Fraassen B. (1980) The scientific image. Clarendon Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Velleman J. D. (2000) The possibility of practical reason. Clarendon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  37. Walker M. U. (2006) Moral repair: Reconstructing moral relations after wrongdoing. Cambridge University Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Williams, B. (1973). Deciding to believe. In Problems of the self. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentHobart & William Smith CollegesGenevaUSA

Personalised recommendations