My claim in this paper is that, contra what I take to be the orthodoxy in the wider literature, we do trust inanimate objects—per the example in the title, there are cases where people really do trust a ladder (to hold their weight, for instance), and, perhaps most importantly, that this poses a challenge to that orthodoxy. My argument consists of 4 parts. In section 2 I introduce an alleged distinction between trust as mere reliance and trust as a rich, morally loaded notion. In the course of doing so, I briefly sketch some models of trust. This will help us to get a handle on how some of the mainstream models of trust preclude or ignore the trusting of inanimate objects. In section 3 I introduce cases designed to show that we have reason to think that we do trust inanimate objects. In section 4 I consider an objection, and, in section 5 I discuss some consequences of this finding, before concluding in section 6.
Tallant, J. (2019). You can trust the ladder, but you shouldn’t. Theoria, 85(2), 102-118. https://doi.org/10.1111/theo.12177