A dominant claim in the philosophical literature on trust is that we should stop thinking in terms of group trustworthiness or appropriate trust in groups. In this paper, we push back against this claim by arguing that philosophical work on trust would benefit from being brought into closer contact with empirical work on the nature of trust. We consider data on reactive attitudes and moral responsibility to adjudicate on different positions in the philosophical literature on trust. An implication of our argument is that the distinction between different kinds of groups—mere groups versus institutional groups—deserves more attention than is currently recognized in the philosophical literature on trust.
In the first section of the paper, we draw some basic philosophical distinctions concerning the nature and kinds of trust. In section two, we present the positions taken by Hawley (2017), who argues against trust in groups, and Faulkner (2018), who argues in favor of trust in groups. In section three, we introduce some empirical data and suggest that, albeit tentatively, this looks to undermine Hawley's position and is compatible with Faulkner's approach. We thus suggest, on the basis of the evidence that we have available, that we have reasons to prefer the position taken by Faulkner (2018) over that taken by Hawley (2017). We end by discussing some implications for distinctions between different kinds of groups relevant for future philosophical work on trust.