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Domenicucci, Jacopo 


This work starts from what may seem like a narrow and technical question in the mental metaphysics of trust. I ask about the portion of reality that our mental state of trust takes as its object, as its world-side referent — just like others have asked this about belief, desire, or knowledge. The trust literature has an implicit answer that I spell out: trust takes the future actions of our partners as its object. I contest the cavalier way in which this assumption about the mental metaphysics of trust is regarded as obvious. There are actually other ways to answer the object question — I introduce them and arrange them in a taxonomy. Among these alternatives, there is one that I find more promising than the traditional assumption. It is the Person-first approach, according to which trust primarily takes persons as its object. This approach to the conceptual modelling of trust is guided by a specific conjecture, the Settling Conjecture, according to which trust is the state that settles our interactions with persons. I illustrate the merits of this conjecture in its own terms. I also arbitrate between the standard and the Person-first approach by comparing them on a specific point — the role of expectations in trust. While the standard approach gives expectations the centre stage, the Person-first approach only treats them as a derivative manifestation of trust. I argue that this is more accurate in the light of what we otherwise know about trust. I also suggest that the Person-first approach opens up a promising research agenda for the study of trust in philosophy. I conclude wrapping up the results and spelling out some take-away messages about humans’ social interdependencies and humans’ social nature.





Holton, Richard


trust, philosophy of mind, philosophy of action, cooperation


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge