Licht and Brülde, ‘On Defining “Reliance” and “Trust”: Purposes, Conditions of Adequacy, and New Definitions’

Trust is often perceived as having great value. For example, there is a strong belief that trust will bring different sorts of public goods and help us preserve common resources. A related concept which is just as important, but perhaps not explicitly discussed to the same extent as ‘trust’, is ‘reliance’ or ‘confidence’. To be able to rely on some agent is often seen as a prerequisite for being able to trust this agent. Up to now, the conceptual discussion about the definition of trust and reliance has been rational in the sense that most people involved have offered arguments for their respective views, or against competing views. While these arguments rely on some criterion or other, these criteria are rarely explicitly stated, and to our knowledge, no systematic account of such criteria has been offered. In this paper we give an account of what criteria we should use to assess tentative definitions of ‘trust’ and ‘reliance’. We will also offer our own well-founded definitions of ‘trust’ and ‘reliance’. Trust should be regarded as a kind of reliance and we defend what we call ‘the accountability view’ of trust, by appealing to the desiderata we identify in the first parts of the paper.

Karl de Fine Licht and Bengt Brülde, On Defining ‘Reliance’ and ‘Trust’: Purposes, Conditions of Adequacy, and New Definitions, Philosophia (2021). Published: 25 March 2021.

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