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Andrew Kirton


Trust, Betrayal, and Interpersonal Dependence

Research interests

Ethics, Philosophy of Action, Philosophy of Mind


Current research

My thesis looks at how trusting people involves an ethical dimension. Trust is significant economically and sociologically because it enables social cohesion. Yet, pointing out that trust is conducive to social cohesion doesn't explain the importance that we place on fulfilling trust as individuals. Trust can be betrayed, as opposed to simply frustrated, and in being betrayed we suffer a harm beyond the practical costs of being let down by someone. Furthermore, betrayability is taken to be constitutive of trust, such that if we can't be betrayed, then we don't really trust. While this is now a consensus view in trust theory, what betrayability amounts to is rarely explored in depth. And if betrayability is constitutive of trust, then without an account of betrayability, we have an impoverished understanding of what trust essentially is. That betrayability aspect of trust is what I unpack in my thesis, with the aim of thereby pushing our understanding of what trust essentially is much further forward than is allowed by existing theories.


I have worked as a Teaching Assistant since 2014. I have worked on the following courses:

  • History of Philosophy (year 1)
  • Ethics (year 2)
  • Aesthetics (year 2)
  • Mind and World (year 1)
  • Values We Live By (year 1)

I have also delivered a guest lecture for the Philosophy of Action (year 3) course on theories of reliance; an aspect of my thesis research.


I have co-organized several conferences at Manchester since starting my PhD, including two iterations of the annual Open Minds student conference, and a workshop on Trust that was held as part of the 'Cooperation and Equality' research project.

In 2015 I gave a paper at the Understanding Value conference in Sheffield. In 2016 I have given papers at the American University of Beirut, the Joint Sessions, and at a BISA conference panel on trust in International Relations (one of my broader research interests).

Other information

I took my BA in Philosophy at Manchester, graduating in 2009. I returned to undertake an MRes part time in 2011, which I (finally) completed at the beginning of 2014. My PhD is funded through a SoSS studentship award.