I read this entry and am still unclear on this. In particular on the external kind. If I am unaware of reasons for why I trust someone, then why am I trusting them? There is always a "reason", even if not logical. Maybe they have a reassuring smile, would my intuition not count as a reason of sorts? In any event, if I have no reasons (as externalist view suggests), then how is trust happening? The bolded part seems to answer that but I don't understand.

Philosophers who agree that trust can be rational...tend to disagree about the extent to which reasons that confer rationality must be accessible to the trustor. Some say that all of these reasons must be available to this person in order for the trust to be rational; in that case, the person is or could be internally justified in trusting as s/he does. Others say that the reasons need not be internal, but can instead be external to the trustor and can lie in what caused the trust, or, more specifically, in the epistemic reliability of what caused it. Moreover, the trustor need not have access to, or be aware of the reliability of, such reasons. (The latter's epistemology of trust is therefore externalist, while the former's is internalist.)


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The following is purely based on the citation you made. I think one has to differ two senses of what it means to have a reason:

  1. If I have reason I can rationalize my trust, that means I have arguments that enable me to say why I trust in this.

  2. If I have reason to trust I have motivation to trust and thus do trust, no matter if I know or even can imagine why or not.

Reasons of the second sort can be external, reasons of the first sort not. In fact, as I understand the definitions, internalists would say that both aspects must always be included in order to have trust at all.

So the interesting point remains how to trust on external reason. The main problem in my opinion is to find a sharp distiction to belief. A good guide should be to stick to the proposition "epistemic reliability of what caused it". A proposal of mine for an understanding would be that while internalists would say that we always have to be able to rationalize, externalists would stick to intuitions basically including something like "I simply know it!", which cannot be justified. Like when you could not tell why, but you simply know that one speaks the truth and will treat you well. You could think of, that is imagine reasons (1st sense), but they simply do not fit, which means there is no rationalization you want to endorse as your reason (1st sense).

This in fact would contradict the internalists' epistemology of trust. And it is external, because these aren't exactly "your" reasons, they are in some way invoked by external causes and not subject to free choice or reason. The trust nevertheless is kind of self-invoked, because it is essentially your trust, though, so that the epistemic reliability of the cause is out of question if it can cause it.

It comes down to a psychological/phenomenological/linguistic note: Do we "trust" in the strict sense if we cannot possibly say why? Internalists say "no", externalists "yes".

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