Recognition, Vulnerability and Trust

A new article by Danielle Petherbridge (University College Dublin) has been published in the International Journal of Philosophical Studies under the title Recognition, Vulnerability and Trust. This paper is part of PERITIA’s first phase focused on understanding the foundations of trust from social, philosophical, psychological and ethical perspectives.

According to the abstract, the author “examines the question of whether recognition relations are based on trust.” Scholars have investigated how the fact of recognising others in our interactions makes us vulnerable to others, “but have largely neglected the underlying ‘webs of trust’ in which such relations are embedded.”

“The paper first offers a novel examination of the relation between recognition, vulnerability and trust in Habermas’ account of communicative action with the aim of arguing that such a consideration helps to elucidate important features of recognition”, Petherbridge explains.

“As Habermas suggests, “[w]henever the speaker enters into an interpersonal relationship with a hearer, he also relates himself as an actor to a network of normative expectations” (Habermas 1992, 190). (…) this network of recognition relations and implicit normative expectations also seems to rely on an underlying sense of trust,” she argues.

“My claim is that a consideration of the dynamics of recognition and vulnerability in language-use, leads to an acknowledgment of the forms of trust that not only underpin communicative action, but recognition more generally. I conclude by considering the elements that are underplayed in Habermas’ account by turning to an examination of Axel Honneth’s alternative affective theory of recognition, specifically considering the interrelation between vulnerability and recognition. In doing so, I also turn to a consideration of the kind of trust that must be assumed in Honneth’s account of mutual recognition and point to a recognitive notion of trust.”

Read the pre-print version of the paper in our PERITIA research section.