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Trust, reliance, and democracy


Budnik, Christian (2018). Trust, reliance, and democracy. International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 26(2):221-239.

Abstract

From the perspective of philosophy and political science it is often pointed out that trust is of central value for democracy. The paper critically examines this claim and argues that we should not overestimate the role of trust in democracy. In order to do that, I argue for a specific understanding of the notion of trust that appropriately accounts for the distinction between trust and mere reliance. In a second step, I argue that we have no reason to put this kind of trust in our elected officials and representatives, but should instead focus on legislative and institutional ways to make sure that they are reliable in particular respects. After contrasting my suggestion with the position of Hardin, I point to two advantages of my account: (1) The avoidance of political analysis through the lens of trust allows us to react more flexibly to unforeseen circumstances and resist populist attempts to emotionalize public debates; (2) at the same time, diffusing the tension between trust and civic vigilance solves a systematic problem in political philosophy. In a concluding section, I briefly discuss the question whether there is an alternative role for trust to play in the field of politics.

Abstract

From the perspective of philosophy and political science it is often pointed out that trust is of central value for democracy. The paper critically examines this claim and argues that we should not overestimate the role of trust in democracy. In order to do that, I argue for a specific understanding of the notion of trust that appropriately accounts for the distinction between trust and mere reliance. In a second step, I argue that we have no reason to put this kind of trust in our elected officials and representatives, but should instead focus on legislative and institutional ways to make sure that they are reliable in particular respects. After contrasting my suggestion with the position of Hardin, I point to two advantages of my account: (1) The avoidance of political analysis through the lens of trust allows us to react more flexibly to unforeseen circumstances and resist populist attempts to emotionalize public debates; (2) at the same time, diffusing the tension between trust and civic vigilance solves a systematic problem in political philosophy. In a concluding section, I briefly discuss the question whether there is an alternative role for trust to play in the field of politics.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:01 Faculty of Theology > Center for Ethics
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
Dewey Decimal Classification:100 Philosophy
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Philosophy
Uncontrolled Keywords:Trust, distrust, reliance, democracy, government, vigilance
Language:English
Date:15 March 2018
Deposited On:04 May 2020 16:18
Last Modified:06 May 2020 20:16
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0967-2559
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/09672559.2018.1450082

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