Trust is a curious thing. It offers less than the security of certainty, but it offers more than the uncertainty of hope. There’s no doubt we need it, but it’s also notoriously fragile. Its loss in one area—in the strength of a relationship, in the benevolence of a neighbor, in the sincerity of a politician, in the health of one’s body—can be swift, and it can affect trust in everything else. At the same time, too much trust can make us vulnerable to manipulation and complacency and leave us ill equipped for crisis and sudden change. How much trust do people need to lead a good life? —We will discuss how trust forms, how it’s maintained, and how it’s lost. How can we maintain our trust in ideals that have so often disappointed us? And how can we do it without denying the reality of our disappointments? Can trust be made more robust, or does brittleness belong to its essence? Can trust in certain situations be a duty, even when there’s little reason for hope? Are there societies that have gotten by with no trust, or with much less than we have today? How have they dealt with contingency?
Concept: Dominic Bonfiglio, Potsdam
Participants: Ute Frevert, Berlin; Russell Hardin, New York; Philip Kitcher, New York; Onora O’Neill, Cambridge; Jan Philipp Reemtsma, Hamburg; Ann Kathrin Scherer, Hamburg; Stefano Zamagni, Bologna; Guido Möllering, Bremen