Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Trust vs Risk

Trust is bad. It is against taking responsbility. If you trust someone with, or to do, something, and that fails, it is then their fault. You trusted them and they let you down.

They may not have been aware you were trusting them. You may not have informed them of this responsbility, or you may have felt it was obviously implicit, without checking if they felt that too. Nonetheless, when something goes wrong, it is their fault for being such an untrustworthy, unreliable person.

Risk is better. If you take a risk it means you gambled, and the failing or success of the endeavor is your own responsibility. If something goes wrong, it was your choice to take the risk and your responsbility to sort out any ensuing problems.

If in situations where we might trust people, we were to take a risk on them instead, it would be better.

As a general rule, it's better to take responsibility for problems rather than looking for someone else to blame them on. This encourages active problem solving, and prevents meta in the form of arguing over whose fault the problem is, when all that needs to happen is that the problem is solved regardless of who is to blame.


  1. This kind of mistaken thinking just encourages bad people to do wrong to others and take no responsibility for that. Each of us should act with integrity and be trustworth, not a risk to others.

  2. "If in situations where we might trust people, we were to take a risk on them instead, it would be better."

    It depends on the situation, I guess.

    For example, what would you say about a child's ability of learning? Would you say "I trust my kid can learn" or rather "I take a risk in my kid's learning abilities"?

    I'm pretty sure most of the families that educate their kids at home will choose the "trust" phrasing, while most of the other ones will choose the "risk" version (especially when talking about the kids in the first group).

  3. Augustin,

    I don't see why home-educating parents would consistently choose to say trust while coercive parents would choose to say risk. I expect that both would actually say trust. But at any rate, it seems quite irrelevant.

    To answer your question, I actually suspect I would not say either. I already know that human beings are capable of learning things, and I am not the human being in question anyway, so I don't see that either trust or risk is involved on my part. What my child chooses to learn would be very much his business. He is the beneficiary of what he learns, not me; it's not me taking a risk on anything.

    Note that there is also a colloquial use of trust, especially when used in the phrasing "I trust that[...]", which means something closer to "presume" than the usage of trust I was criticizing in my OP. But that is more of an interesting linguistic point and not related to the philosophy of the matter.

  4. Home-educating parents are taking a risk, but so are schooling parents, even if they don't aknowledge it. I'll write more about this in my blog.

    Off-topic aside, in human relationships, being against trust is to blame the victim rather than blame the criminal.

  5. You invite someone over to your house and he steals from you. According to your theory, he didn't commit a crime.

    Your friend who knew that this person was a thief, chose not to tell you. According to your theory, that doesn't make him a bad friend or an accomplice.

  6. I do not see what parts of my theory are incompatible with property rights.

    I fear I have been unclear. It would make him a bad friend, but to keep him as a friend would be your own poor judgement, and your own responsibility.