Trust and obligation-ascription

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This paper defends the view that trust is a moral attitude, by putting forward the Obligation-Ascription Thesis: If E trusts F to do X, this implies that E ascribes an obligation to F to do X. I explicate the idea of obligation-ascription in terms of requirement and the appropriateness of blame. Then, drawing a distinction between attitude and ground, I arguethat this account of the attitude of trust is compatible with the possibility of amoral trust,that is, trust held among amoral persons on the basis of amoral grounds. It is also compatible with trust adopted on purely predictive grounds. Then, defending the thesis against a challenge of motivational inefficacy, I argue that obligation-ascription canmotivate people to act even in the absence of definite, mutually-known agreements. I end by explaining, briefly, the advantages of this sort of moral account of trust over a view based on reactive attitudes such as resentment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-319
Number of pages11
JournalEthical Theory and Moral Practice
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • agreement
  • attitude-ascription
  • blame
  • morality
  • moral requirement
  • obligation
  • Trust


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