Vol. 39 No. 1 (2019): The Prismatic Shape of Trust

Unwelcome Trust

Justin Bzovy
University of Alberta Concordia University of Edmonton McEwan University

Published 2019-06-10


  • unwelcome trust,
  • trustworthiness,
  • trust-rejection model,
  • entrusting-rejection model,

How to Cite

Bzovy, J. (2019). Unwelcome Trust. Teoria. Rivista Di Filosofia, 39(1), 29–44. https://doi.org/10.4454/teoria.v39i1.55


An account of trust or trustworthiness must also explain what is known as unwelcome or unwanted trust (Jones 1996; McLeod 2002, 2004). Unwelcome trust typically arises when the trustor expects a specific type of action from trustee, but the trustee, for whatever reason, does not want to do what the trustor wants. The existence of unwelcome trust raises a difficult question for any account of trust or trustworthiness. Which accounts of trust can best explain unwelcome trust? I show first how different accounts of trust and trustworthiness imply that we need two different models of unwelcome trust. The entrusting-rejection model explains unwelcome trust as a mismatch between how the agents perceive their relationship (Baier 1986; McLeod 2002, 2004). The sort of relationship that is being entrusted to the trustee is what is being rejected. The trust-rejection model of unwelcome trust, on the other hand, sees it as a matter of perceived coercion. According to this view, the trust itself is rejected, not whatever it is that is being entrusted (Jones 1996; Pettit 1995). I will argue, by way of some key examples, that unwelcome trust fits neither view, and that a disjunctive or generic account of trust is required (Walker 2006). I close by defending this thesis against two objections.