Trust: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
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Trust is indispensable to our everyday lives, yet it can be dangerous. Without trusting others, we cannot function in society, or even stay alive for very long, but being overly trustful can leave us open to exploitation and abuse. And not only is trust pragmatic, but it also has a moral dimension: trustworthiness is a virtue, and well-placed trust benefits us all. In this Very Short Introduction, philosopher Katherine Hawley explores the key ideas about trust and distrust. Drawing on a wide range of disciplines, including philosophy, psychology, and evolutionary biology, she emphasizes the nature and importance of trusting and being trusted, from our intimate bonds with significant others to our relationship with the state. Considering questions such as "Why do we value trust?" and "Why do we want to be trusted rather than distrusted?" Hawley illuminates the importance of trust in the personal and public spheres. Moreover, she draws on a range of research to show how trust stands at the center of many disciplines, including biology, psychology, and game theory. The book also examines the evolutionary aspects of trust.
cereal – not too sugary, for the sake of their health – and I sent them upstairs to get dressed. After I’d put dinner money in their bags, we walked up the road to cross with the lollipop lady, and the kids ran into school. I bought a newspaper on the way home, unlocked the front door, then picked up a few early birthday cards from the doormat. Without trust, we would have been paralysed by inaction. I trusted my husband to make a decent cup of coffee, and to drive carefully on his way to the
not sure whether to trust or distrust – will the car really survive a three-week tour of the Alps? – but usually time will tell. At this level, trusting or distrusting things amounts to relying on them or not relying on them. This doesn’t have the moral overtones or rich complexity of interpersonal trust and distrust. After all, I don’t find myself grateful to the chair for its goodwill in holding me up, I don’t accuse the kitchen door of betrayal when it pinches my fingers, and I’m not plunged
in others? After all, if I trust myself, but this turns out to be a mistake, I may feel frustrated and disappointed, but it would be unusual to think that I have betrayed myself, and stranger still to demand an apology of myself. In typical interpersonal cases, inviting someone’s trust and then disappointing them is regarded as a moral failing, an untrustworthiness that merits disapproval. But my later self doesn’t exactly invite the trust of my earlier self, nor make binding promises. There is a
esteemed science journal Nature published a comparative study of Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica (slogan: ‘Know for Sure’) on a wide range of scientific topics. Both sources contained errors, Wikipedia more than Britannica, but the difference was not overwhelming. More generally, each of us has expertise in some area, whether professional or personal – the sports team you follow, the town you grew up in, the genre of music you were immersed in as a teenager. In these areas, we can check the
treaty obligations depends upon whether it has, or ever had, the intention of complying. But it also depends upon whether it has the material and other resources to enable it to comply. Weak leaders cannot be trusted if they do not have the political capital they need to deliver on their promises, and failed states cannot enter into agreements at all, meaning that they are candidates for neither trust nor distrust. Conclusion The importance of being trustworthy In the end, what matters most: