, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 615–627 | Cite as

Trust and Trustworthiness

  • Stephen WrightEmail author


What is it to trust someone? What is it for someone to be trustworthy? These are the two main questions that this paper addresses. There are various situations that can be described as ones of trust, but this paper considers the issue of trust between individuals. In it, I suggest that trust is distinct from reliance or cases where someone asks for something on the expectation that it will be done due to the different attitude taken by the trustor. I argue that the trustor takes Holton’s ‘participant stance’ and this distinguishes trust from reliance. I argue that trustworthiness is different from reliability and that an account of trustworthiness cannot be successful whilst ignoring the point that aligning trustworthiness with reliability removes the virtue from being trustworthy. On the question of what it is distinguishes trustworthiness from reliability, I argue that the distinction is in the opportunity for the trustee to act against the wishes of the trustor and the trustee’s consideration of the value of the trust that has been placed in them by the trustor.


Trust Trustworthiness Reliance Participant stance Virtue Expectation 



I would like to thank the following for their support in the preparation of this paper. Firstly Stephen Laurence, University of Sheffield, who made helpful comments and suggestions on an earlier version of this paper that helped me develop it to its current stage. Secondly Karen Jones, University of Melbourne, whom I would like to thank for her helpful email discussion and for sending me an early chapter of her forthcoming work that has been mentioned in this paper. I would also like to thank an anonymous reviewer who reviewed this paper for Philosophia and provided me with helpful directions and criticisms that helped me clarify the paper.


  1. Baier, A. (1986). Trust and antitrust. Ethics, 96(2), 231–260. doi: 10.1086/292745.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Faulkner, P. (1995). A genealogy of trust. Episteme, 4(3), 305–321. doi: 10.3366/E174236000700010X.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Lorenz, E. H. (1988). Subcontracting in the French Industry. In D. Gambetta (Ed.), Trust: Making and breaking co-operative relations (p. 196). Oxford.Google Scholar
  4. Hanfling, O. (2008). How we trust one another. Philosophy (London, England), 83(2), 161–177. doi: 10.1017/S0031819108000442.Google Scholar
  5. Hardin, R. (1996). Trustworthiness. Ethics, 107(1), 26–42. doi: 10.1086/233695.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Holton, R. (1994). Deciding to trust, coming to believe. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 72(1), 63–76. doi: 10.1080/00048409412345881.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Jones, K. (1996). Trust as an affective attitude. Ethics, 107(1), 4–25. doi: 10.1086/233694.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Pettit, P. (1995). The cunning of trust. Philosophy & Public Affairs, 24(3), 202–225. doi: 10.1111/j.1088-4963.1995.tb00029.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of SheffieldSheffieldUK

Personalised recommendations