From Believing the best: on doxastic partiality in friendship by Lindsay Crawford

Argues that there is no conflict between friendship and epistimic norms as being a good friend constitutively involves forming attitudes about one’s friends that are appropriately responsive to the features that one’s friends have that appear to warrant those attitudes

Note: property being constitutive of is not a normative reason for to have

It is not true that friendship can normatively require doxastic (logic/belief) partiality but not for the reasons given against partiality by “evidentialists”

Types of deliberation

  1. Practical deliberation:
  2. Theoretical deliberation:
  • Partiality: You are more likely to do certain things for someone that you wouldn’t do for others.
  • Doxastic partiality: You are more likely to believe in it

We can be partial to your friends but they can be wrong given state-given reasons. We can be partial to our friends but not because it is normative to be always partial to our friends

  • Partialist: those who argue that friendship can normatively require doxastic partiality
    • Someone who failed to be doxastically partial to you would fail to be a good friend to you
    • We ought (normative statement) to do the various things that partly constitutive of what it is to be a good friend to someone (e.g. be doxastically partial)
      • This statement stems from the idea that good friendships are invaluable and indispensible component of living a good life. In turn, it makes sense that we ought to cultivate and sustain good friendships
  • Evidentialists: people who claim that what we ought to believe only subject to epistemic reasons, which are directly, transparently available as evidence during deliberation
    • There are no reasons to be doxastically partial, because, more generally, there are no non-evidential reasons for belief
    • Transparency: the question of whether to believe gives way to the factual question of whether holds true because the answer to the latter question determines the answer to the former
      • First gloss: we inevitably first consult the evidence in deliberation
      • Second gloss: normative point that evidence is the only thing relative in deliberation
      • However, it is true that not being true does not stop one from believing that
        • Being a good friend, in my view, need not require being right about what sorts of qualities genuinely deserve one’s love or admiration.

On deliberation: deliberation concludes in an attitude of some kind, not the action itself

  • Practical deliberation about whether to do concludes in an intention to
    • However, practical deliberation can be about theoretical deliberation
  • Theoretical deliberation about whether to believe that

State-given vs appropriately responsive attitudes

  • A reason for an attitude is state-given when its status as a reason is grounded in some relation it bears to a property of having that attitude in one’s circumstances. e.g. an evil demon will torture you unless you believe that 2 + 2 = 5 is a state given reason to believe that 2 + 2 = 5.
    • Thus, the approach to thinking that esteeming a good friend because you expect them to esteem you in return is a state-give reason for esteeming them (e.g. makes esteeming the friend practically advantageous)
  • As opposed to appropriately responsive attitudes. These reasons for attitudes are appropriately responsive when they are responsive to what one takes to be “object-given reasons” — that is, it is grounded in some relation that bears to a property of the object of the attitude
    • The belief that a friend is kind purely because your friend’s kindness is a property of your friend (that is, they actually have the feature)

Partiality and prejudice in trusting

By Katherine Hawley

Is it reasonable to trust your friends?

Common definition of trust:

  • involves relying on them to do it
  • an extra factor which distinguishes genuine trust from the attitude of mere reliance we take to inanimate objects

Interestingly, there is a gap between relying on someone to do something and believing that they will do it

  • Trust is a choice — so “trusting someone to do something need not involve belief that she is trustworthy, nor belief that she will do what she is trusted to do, nor even belief that it is likely she will do it”
  • You can trust someone to do something without relying on them to do it
    • I can trust my friends to keep my secrets by not believing that they won’t keep my secrets
  • You can rely on them without trusting them - I can rely on my neighbour to tidy the garden we share but I don’t trust her to do so (nor distrust) — I would feel disappointed but not resentful if she didn’t do the job Trust doesn’t require active knowledge — checking whether will is unnecessary when I already know whether will

Stroud (2006) and Kelly (2004) argue that we should have partiality towards friends not only in actions but beliefs as well, though this isn’t always the right thing to do. As Stroud says, ‘friendship requires epistemic irrationality’

  • Confirmation bias: tendency to notice evidence which confirms our existing beliefs (that our friends are indeed good people)
  • May resist bad news that undermines a shared history of friendship (sunk cost fallacy)
    • “should we quietly drop the friend, provoke a confrontation, or accept a continuing friendship contaminated with doubts?”

The considerations are all in some sense selfish—they play on our wish to be right, to have been right, to be a good judge of character, and to avoid difficult situations.

Exploring potential conflicts between different types of trust

  1. Epistemic Trust: trust in someone as a speaker or source of knowledge
  2. Practical Trust: trust in someone as an actor

In fact, there is often a two-way causal interaction between friendship and trustworthiness. Roughly, people are more likely to behave in a trust-worthy manner towards their friends, and we are more likely to form friendships with people we consider trustworthy. Clearly, there are exceptions

  1. Friend might let you down instead of disappointing someone else as your friend hopes you will understand and forgive them
  2. Might find it more tempting to lie about some matters because they are concerned about maintaining a good image of themselves in your mind But if she takes these liberties too often, you will feel you have been taken for granted, and come to resent your friend. Friendship requires mutual respect and openness as well as forgiveness.

Stroud’s 4 demands of friendship

  1. Serious scrutiny: scrutinize negative claims about our friends
  2. Different conclusions: draw different conclusions and make difference inferences than they otherwise would about non-friends given the same information
  3. Interpretive Charity: interpret evidence against friends more charitably than with non-friends
  4. Reason: treat the fact someone is a friend as a reason when we believe about them