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Business and Professional Ethics Journal

Volume 33, Issue 1, Spring 2014

Anne C. Ozar
Pages 83-98
DOI: 10.5840/bpej2014518

The Plausibility of Client Trust of Professionals

Trust is a crucial component of the relationship between a professional and those whom the professional serves because those served often lack the past experience and specialized training necessary to adequately assess the reliability of the professional’s judgments on their behalf. This article is an attempt to enhance our understanding of the conditions under which client trust of a professional is plausible. Trust, I will explain, is an emotional attitude with a unique evaluative dimension that can lead the one who trusts to anticipate that the one trusted will not betray her even when she cannot adequately assess evidence of the trusted’s reliability. It is, however, precisely because evaluating someone’s trustworthiness differs in important respects from assessing their reliability that substantive trust of a professional is implausible in cases where those served by a particular profession, for example, medicine or journalism, conceive of it as merely a commercial enterprise.