Taking it on Trust: Knowledge, Cooperation,
and Vulnerability

Civilization requires that we are able to rely on others. While contracts explicitly assure us of what people will do, most of our reliance on others is unstated: we trust them. What is this thing called "trust"? In this class, we will explore trust philosophically. We will consider questions like: Why should we trust what people say when we know they might be lying? Does scientific knowledge avoid the need for trust? Is cooperation without trust possible at all? How do trauma and vulnerability affect our ability and responsibility to trust? Course texts will include selections from foundational sources like Thomas Hobbes and David Hume and recent philosophical texts on trust. Interdisciplinary works will allow us to examine the role of trust in economies, businesses, and even the Mafia. As we critically read and discuss these texts, students will develop their own research and argumentative writing skills. Students will practice these skills by planning, writing, and revising several papers, culminating in an 8-10 page argumentative research paper. Student writing will be supported by informal writing, peer response, and critical self-reflection assignments.

frog jumping