Response to Olli Lagerspetz

  • Annette C. Baier
Part of the Swansea Studies in Philosophy book series (SWSP)


What is it to accept vulnerability to the power of another person? I, perhaps like the woman G. B. Shaw reproved (when in response to her gushing pronouncement ‘I accept the universe!’ he replied ‘Madam, you had better!’), take acceptance to include not just the voluntary act, contrasted with the act of refusing, but also a near-welcoming of a situation that may or may not be in one’s power to alter, an attitude contrasting with anxiety, or resentment of one’s situation. Is acceptance of being in another’s power still too complex a matter to attribute to a newborn? And if it is attributable, can it count as trust, or does it, as Lagerspetz would have us believe, contaminate complete trust by the possibly disturbing thought of the power of the other? When, as a first approximation to what I took trust to be, I called it ‘accepted vulnerability to another’s possible but not expected ill will (or lack of good will) to one,’ I certainly did not mean to imply that trust has to be initiated by a voluntary act of acceptance, as one might accept an offer of marriage, nor that scenarios of possible betrayal must pass through the truster’s mind. Indeed, when I went on in a much criticized second approximation to take trusting to be implicit entrusting of something one values to the care of another, I went out of my way to try to cancel the suggestions of choice and explicitness that come with the concept of entrusting.


Moral Theory Trust Relationship Piece Good Concern Knowledge Complete Trust 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1997

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  • Annette C. Baier

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