Volume 90, Issue 2, April 2013
Self-Trust and Extended Trust
A Reliabilist Account
Where most discussions of trust focus on the rationality of trust, in this paper I explore the doxastic justification of beliefs formed through trust. I examine
two forms of trust: the self-trust that is involved when one trusts one’s own basic cognitive faculties, and the interpersonal trust that is involved when one trusts another speaker. Both cases involve regarding a source of information as dependable for the truth. In thinking about the epistemic significance regarding a source in this way, I call upon Process Reliabilism (PR). With its core idea that the epistemic goodness of a belief tracks the reliability of the process through which the belief was formed, PR suggests one way to think about the (potential) epistemic benefits and risks of trust: in cases of trust the process through which belief is formed includes reliance on an information source, where the reliability with which the source produced its information is the main determinant of the epistemic status of the beliefs formed through trusting that source. While it is much more common to find something like this picture endorsed in connection with
cases of self-trust, I argue that it ought to be endorsed for cases of interpersonal trust as well. The failure to do so, I submit, reflects a commitment to an individualistic orientation that proponents of PR need not, and should not, endorse.