Relativistic Conceptions of Trustworthiness: Implications for the Trustworthy Status of National Identification Systems

Data and Policy 4 (e21):1-16 (2022)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Trustworthiness is typically regarded as a desirable feature of national identification systems (NISs); but the variegated nature of the trustor communities associated with such systems makes it difficult to see how a single system could be equally trustworthy to all actual and potential trustors. This worry is accentuated by common theoretical accounts of trustworthiness. According to such accounts, trustworthiness is relativized to particular individuals and particular areas of activity, such that one can be trustworthy with regard to some individuals in respect of certain matters, but not trustworthy with regard to all trustors in respect of every matter. The present article challenges this relativistic approach to trustworthiness by outlining a new account of trustworthiness, dubbed the expectation-oriented account. This account allows for the possibility of an absolutist (or one-place) approach to trustworthiness. Such an account, we suggest, is the approach that best supports the effort to develop NISs. To be trustworthy, we suggest, is to minimize the error associated with trustor expectations in situations of social dependency (commonly referred to as trust situations), and to be trustworthy in an absolute sense is to assign equal value to all expectation-related errors in all trust situations. In addition to outlining the features of the expectation-oriented account, we describe some of the implications of this account for the design, development, and management of trustworthy NISs.

Author's Profile

Paul Smart
University of Southampton


Added to PP

211 (#54,835)

6 months
62 (#46,463)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?