Document Type

Conference Paper in Published Proceedings



Publication Date



In this paper, I articulate and defend a conception of trust that solves what I call “the trickster problem.” The problem results from the fact that many accounts of trust treat it similar to, or identical with, relying on someone’s good will. But a trickster could rely on your good will to get you to go along with his scheme, without trusting you to do so. Recent philosophical accounts of trust aim to characterize what it is for one person to trust another so as to avoid this problem, but no extant account successfully does so.

I argue that connecting trust to important, normatively defined relationships like friendship, romantic partnerships and parenting shows us something important about trust. The clearest cases of trust are found within the confines of normatively defined relationships like these, suggesting that there is a normative element to trust. Trusting someone involves not just believing that another person’s good will covers your interactions. Trusting involves believing that, at least in a certain domain of interaction, you are entitled to rely on that person’s good will. This account solves the trickster problem, because a trickster is not entitled to his victim’s good will.