Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Philip Rossi

Second Advisor

Mary Ann Siderits

Third Advisor

Ronald Feenstra

Fourth Advisor

Thomas C. Anderson

Fifth Advisor

Michael K. Duffey


This dissertation is an interdisciplinary study of an Ethics of Trust. It draws on the disciplines of philosophy, theology, and psychology to show the importance of trust in midlife adulthood, particularly as trust is required for the resolution of tensions surrounding commitments. Taking a relational perspective, this dissertation addresses the various aspects of commitment as they affect the self, the community, and God. Midlife women serve as a test case to show that trust plays a crucial role for those who are called to reassess interpersonal commitments at midlife. The philosophy of Gabriel Marcel establishes a foundation for the relational aspects of trust. Marcel's concrete approach to philosophy is used to study being, relationships, and hope (trust). From a theological perspective, trust is grounded in the experiences of those who believed in God and in God's self-revelation. Job serves as an exemplar of trust in God founded on an interpersonal relationship with God. God's steadfast love, fidelity, and trustworthiness was fully revealed in Jesus. This God was Emmanuel, God-with-us, who is faithful in all circumstances, even death. From the study of psychology, an understanding of trust and human development at midlife is disclosed. The factors that contribute to growth in trust and those that destroy trust are discussed. The midlife stage of human development is examined from the perspective of time, polarity tensions, life dream, generativity, tasks, moral reasoning, and faith development to show the place of trust in midlife development. In the final section of this dissertation, correlation points are presented. Through an examination of women at midlife, an application of the correlation points are made. There is a rebirth of identity, particularly in women in midlife, that is effected through trust in self and through involvement with the human family as a whole. The place of trust comes to focus on decisions a woman must make to balance personal call and commitments. The importance of trust, the interpersonal nature of trust, and the ethical dimensions of trust come to bear on these decisions. The study of women and trust is useful for all adults struggling with decisions of trust and commitments at midlife.



Restricted Access Item

Having trouble?