Trust and belief: A preemptive reasons account

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According to doxastic accounts of trust, trusting a person to Φ involves, among other things, holding a belief about the trusted person: either the belief that the trusted person is trustworthy or the belief that she actually will Φ. In recent years, several philosophers have argued against doxastic accounts of trust. They have claimed that the phenomenology of trust suggests that rather than such a belief, trust involves some kind of non-doxastic mental attitude towards the trusted person, or a non-doxastic disposition to rely upon her. This paper offers a new account of reasons for trust and employs the account to defend a doxastic account of trust. The paper argues that reasons for trust are preemptive reasons for action or belief. Thus the Razian concept of preemptive reasons, which arguably plays a key role in our understanding of relations of authority, is also central to our understanding of relations of trust. Furthermore, the paper argues that acceptance of a preemptive account of reasons for trust supports the adoption of a doxastic account of trust, for acceptance of such an account both neutralizes central objections to doxastic accounts of trust and provides independent reasons supporting a doxastic account.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2593-2615
Number of pages23
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jul 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments Research on this paper was generously funded by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant No. 714/12). An earlier version of this paper was presented at the International Conference on Theoretical and Rational Rationality at the Israel Institute of Advanced Studies. For helpful comments, I am grateful to participants at the conference, to the editors and anonymous reviewers of this journal, and to Iddo Landau, Ariel Meirav, Collin O’neil, and Saul Smilansky. I am especially grateful to Joseph Raz.


  • Authority
  • Belief
  • Reason
  • Testimony
  • Trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • General Social Sciences


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