Trust and Trustworthiness

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (2022)
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A widespread assumption in debates about trust and trustworthiness is that the evaluative norms of principal interest on the trustor’s side of a cooperative exchange regulate trusting attitudes and performances whereas those on the trustee’s side regulate dispositions to respond to trust. The aim here will be to highlight some unnoticed problems with this asymmetrical picture – and in particular, how it elides certain key evaluative norms on both the trustor’s and trustee’s side the satisfaction of which are critical to successful cooperative exchanges – and to show that a symmetrical, ‘achievement-first’ approach to theorising about trust and trustworthiness (and their relation to each other) has important advantages by comparison. The view I develop is guided by a structural analogy with practical reasoning. Just as practical reasoning is working as it should only when there is realisation (knowledge and action) of states (belief and intention) with reverse directions of fits (mind-to-world and world-to-mind), likewise, cooperation between trustor and trustee is functioning as it should only when there is an analogous kind of realisation on both sides of the cooperative exchange – viz., when the trustor ‘matches’ her achievement in trusting (an achievement in fitting reliance to reciprocity) with the trustee’s achievement in responding to trust (an achievement in fitting reciprocity to reliance). An upshot of viewing cooperation between trustor and trustee as exhibiting achievement-theoretic structure is that we will be better positioned to subsume trustworthiness (and its cognates on the trustee’s side), like trust, under a wider suite of evaluative norms that regulate attempts, dispositions, and achievements symmetrically on both sides of a cooperative exchange, with ‘matching achievements’ as the gold standard.

Author's Profile

J. Adam Carter
University of Glasgow


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