Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Practical Philosophy and Applied Ethics (MA)

First Advisor

Dr. John Maraldo

Second Advisor

Dr. Daniel Callcut

Third Advisor

Dr. Mitch Haney

College Dean

Dr. Barbara Hetrick


Watsuji Tetsuro's philosophy in the early 20th Century presented a view of ethics that was markedly different from the more common theories of the Western philosophical tradition. He viewed ethics as a natural outgrowth of our essential nature as human beings. By investigating what it means to be human, Watsuji argued, one could develop a stronger understanding of our reasons and methods for being ethical. One of his ideas involved trust's importance and inevitability in our ethical palette. Developed by Watsuji, this connection between trust and our nature as human beings was interesting.

It is my claim that how we treat others is based upon whether or not we are aware of our commonalities. By expanding our awareness of the qualities we all share, we are expanding our sphere of ethical concern. We can do this by coming to recognize the deep interconnections present in all human beings. This deep interconnection I call Authentic Trust - a fundamental knowledge of our collaboration and interdependence in society. This level of Trust we have occurs at all times and is not a conscious choice we make in our daily lives. Becoming aware of the existence of Authentic Trust, I claim, brings about compassion and empathy within us. Out of such compassion we learn to take risks in order to consciously trust others (what I define as "chosen trust") and form strong relationships. This leads to better moral choices and expanded ethical considerations. So our awareness of how we are interconnected is the source of our ethical reasoning. It is my hope to clearly establish this relationship between our ontological state as humans and the predominance of Trust in our lives.

I also examine my claims about Trust against similar thinkers in contemporary ethical philosophy as well as draw comparisons between Watsuji' s concept of the human being and Heidegger's concept of Dasein. Finally, I will apply my theory of Trust to larger communities such as small businesses, corporations, and nations. In this I offer a possible solution to some common ethical dilemmas and illustrate the normative claims that can arise from this meta-ethical viewpoint.

Included in

Philosophy Commons