Northwestern Events Calendar


Kate Abramson (Indiana University): Northwestern Philosophy Colloquia Series

When: Friday, May 24, 2019
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM  

Where: Kresge Hall, 1515, 1880 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Casey Huynh   847.491.3656

Group: Philosophy Colloquia Series

Category: Academic


“What gaslighting can teach us about trust”

It takes only a moment’s reflection to notice that gaslighting radically undermines trust (in others and in oneself)—indeed, that much is close to definitional. Similarly, it’s utterly unsurprising that gaslighters often use their target’s trust in them as leverage. But what if we flipped the question? Suppose we ask, instead: what might we learn about the nature of trust from the phenomenon of gaslighting? A great deal, I think. I will argue that taking a very close look at certain aspects of some paradigm cases of gaslighting reveals the inadequacy of all the standard positions in two well-worn debates in the philosophical literature on trust: debates over the kinds of normative expectations in play in trust, and debates about whether trust is best understood as a two-place or else three-place relation. I will propose that what’s needed here is not simply another view about what kind of normative expectations are at play in trust, and/or another view about whether trust is a two or three place relation. Rather, what we need is a conception of trust that shows that those aren’t quite the right questions to be asking. I’ll argue for two key aspects of such an alternative conception of trust, highlight ways in which so conceiving of trust can help us make sense of what’s going on in gaslighting, and offer some reasons for thinking the alternative conception will in fact do a better job of making sense of both the stock examples commonly deployed in philosophical discussions of gaslighting, and other aspects of our everyday practices.


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