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I advance a social role-based framework for understanding inter-personal trust and trustworthiness. I aim to argue against the influence of market ideals on matters of trust.

Interpersonal trust, I argue, exists in relations between role-occupants. This framework accommodates diverse social relations – personal (lovers, parent-child, etc.) and impersonal (citizens, caste-members, etc.) – and norms of those roles and role-relations. It explains how trust interacts with different relational dynamics.

Departing from the standard accounts, I advance a novel role-based theory of generalized social trust. Social roles are often constitutively incommensurable with one another, consequently they cannot be ranked on any cardinal value scale. Trust in one role, accordingly, is not entirely commensurable with that in another. My account preserves the diversity of interpersonal trusts while identifying the features common to all. Involving social scientific literature, I explain how social trust underpins political trust and trust in economic exchanges. Given that trustworthy institutions are important for sustaining social trust, I also explain how institutions can become trustworthy – both internally and to outsiders.

The diversity of interpersonal trust gets blurred once we understand interpersonal trust and trustworthiness as involving only one motivation. I argue against some monistic accounts in first two sections.

From section three onwards, I focus on the claim that self-interest to maximize aggregate utility is the necessary motive for trustworthiness.Rational’ self-interest is one among many market ideals. Hence, engaging with the works in classical, Austrian, and neoclassical economics I critically examine defences of certain cardinal market ideals.

Having already argued that social relations, and trust involved in those, are often constitutively incommensurable, I lastly argue against accounts which claim that self-interestedness is the necessary motive for trustworthiness. I argue:

  • material incentives are not necessary for trustworthiness – incentivising, moreover, could be coercive,
  • social norms are often followed without coercion or self-interest,
  • following Aristotle’s discussion of utility and pleasure-friendships, seeking either utility or pleasure is wrong as a motivation for trustworthiness in personal relationships.

In the final year of PhD, I wish to complete writing final drafts of sections three and four.

My thesis argues that self-interest is inappropriate as a motivation for trustworthiness. Overwhelming focus on that obfuscates the diverse motivations and processes involved in interpersonal trust. Involving literatures on philosophy of trust, friendship, and political economy I argue that the influence of market ideals on interpersonal trust could precipitate a crisis of trust. The thesis addresses academic and contemporary social-political concerns.

Research interests

Philosophy of Trust, Philosophy of Friendship, Political Economy, Marxism, Philosophy of Needs


My research is generously funded by School of Social Sciences PhD Studentship. 
I am also a recepient of the University's Presidential Doctoral Scholar Award.
I am also a receipient of the Royal Institute of Philosophy Student Bursary 2022-23

Supervision information

I am supervised by Dr. Thomas Smith and Prof. John O'Neill 

Education/Academic qualification

Master of Arts, Philosophy, Jadavpur University

Award Date: 24 Dec 2018

Bachelor of Arts, Philosophy, Jadavpur University

Award Date: 24 Dec 2016


  • Trust, Marxism, Needs, Friendship


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