Chapter

Testimony, Credulity, and Veracity

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.

Abstract

This chapter concerns the nature of testimony, its relation to belief, justification, and knowledge, and its status as a source of all three. It argues that testimony-based beliefs are non-inferential and, in that special sense, psychologically basic. Some of those non-inferential beliefs also constitute basic knowledge. Testimony is not, however, a basic source of knowledge. It has a kind of dependence on perception that precludes this. Testimony is also a source of justification, though it is non-basic for justification as well as for knowledge; but the chapter indicates some ways in which its role in giving us justification differs from its role in giving us knowledge. These and other ideas are then developed in comparison with Thomas Reid's theory of testimony. The chapter finally shows how testimony differs from such basic sources of knowledge and justification as perception and reason, but is nonetheless essential for human knowledge as we know it.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

... 19 The example just given assumes that testimonial knowledge is not typically basic; this is a widely accepted view, but it is not without dissenters; see e.g. Audi (2006) and van Cleve (2006), who attribute it to Thomas Reid. (Audi agrees with Reid on this matter; van j o n at h a n j e n k i n s i c h i k awa ...
... If e.g. Audi (2006) is right that testimony is a source of basic knowledgeif, when you tell me something, I end up knowing it, even without basing this fact on knowledge of e.g. what you've saidthen limiting knowledge to be basic would be less stingy. ...
Article
An influential twenty-first century philosophical project posits a central role for knowledge: knowledge is more fundamental than epistemic states like belief and justification. So-called “knowledge first” theorists find support for this thought in identifying central theoretical roles for knowledge. I argue that a similar methodology supports a privileged role for a more specific category of basic knowledge . Some of the roles that knowledge first theorists have posited for knowledge generally are better suited for basic knowledge.
... A speaker may thus warrantedly assert without believing, or even justifiably believing, what she asserts. 27 The original example is from Lackey (1999) and Lackey (2007) and the second is an adaptation from Audi (2006). ...
... Although in the immediate context of the assertion she's not aiming at expressing knowledge, like Stella is, in the wider context of teaching concepts in a progression (from easier to more difficult, and from the false to the true) she is aiming at expressing knowledge. It's a reason-29 As noted above, the example is an adaptation from Audi (2006). ...
Article
In this paper I present my proposal for the central norm governing the practice of assertion, which I call the Supportive Reasons Norm of Assertion (SRNA). The critical features of this norm are that it's highly sensitive to the context of assertion, such that the requirements for warrantedly asserting a proposition shift with changes in context, and that truth is not a necessary condition for warrantedly asserting. In fact, I argue that there are some cases where a speaker may warrantedly assert something she knows to be false. Only SRNA seems able to account for such cases.
... All this is still pretty vague, but one useful way to see the distinction that we care about here is to think of Pritchard's (2004) taxonomy, distinguishing between what he dubs credulism, on one hand, and reductionism on the other. Champions of reductionism include Adler (1994), Audi (1997Audi ( , 2004Audi ( , 2006, Fricker (1995), Hume (1739), Lipton (1998), Lyons (1997). For defenses of anti-reductionist (credulist) views, see, e.g. ...
Article
Full-text available
One popular view in recent years takes the source of testimonial entitlement to reside in the intrinsically social character of testimonial exchanges. This paper looks at two extant incarnations of this view, what we dub ‘weak’ and ‘modest’ social anti-reductionism, and questions the rationales behind their central claims. Furthermore, we put forth an alternative, strong social anti-reductionist account, and show how it does better than the competition on both theoretical and empirical grounds.
... 9 See, e.g. Audi (2006Audi ( , 2007. For discussion of this objection and of other potential objections to the case, see Lackey (1999;2008, pp. ...
Article
Full-text available
Fricker (2006a) has proposed that a hearer’s knowledge that p acquired through trusting a speaker requires the speaker to know that p, and that therefore testimonial knowledge through trust is necessarily second-hand knowledge. In this paper, I argue that Fricker’s view is problematic for four reasons: firstly, Fricker’s dismissal of a central challenge to the second-handedness of testimonial knowledge is based on a significant misrepresentation of this challenge; secondly, on closer scrutiny an important distinction Fricker wants to draw is compromised by her account of trust; thirdly, Fricker’s conception of trust is at odds with our natural understanding of this notion; fourthly, the reasons Fricker cites in support of her view are not sufficient to single out her view as the correct one, since rival views can also accommodate the relevant data.
... In the last twenty years, testimony has become a more fashionable topic in epistemology, and the literature on it has grown considerably; see Audi (1997Audi ( , 2006; Kusch (2002aKusch ( , 2002b; Pritchard (2004) ;Lackey, Sosa, Eds. (2006);Fricker (2006); Moran (2005Moran ( /2006; Lackey (2008); Goldberg (2010);Faulkner (2011);McMyler (2011);Adler (2012); Greco (2012Greco ( , 2015; Zagzebski (2012 Coady (1992, pp. ...
Article
Full-text available
The paper is concerned with the epistemological status of testimony and the question of what may confer justification on true testimonial beliefs and enable us to call such beliefs knowledge. In particular, it addresses certain anti-reductionist arguments in the epistemology of testimony and their incompatibility with the grammatical categories of egophoricity (conjunct/disjunct marking) and evidentiality (information source marking) present in the architecture of natural languages. First, the tradition of epistemological individualism and its rationale are discussed, as well as certain attempts within this tradition to include testimony-based beliefs in the body of legitimate and rational beliefs. The next section is concerned with the anti-reductionist approach to testimonial beliefs and some arguments supporting ‘the credulity principle’ grounded in Thomas Reid's philosophy of common sense. The last two sections show how the anti-reductionist argumentation is threatened with an insoluble dilemma when considered in the context of languages with the grammatical categories of egophoricity (conjunct/disjunct marking) and evidentiality (information source marking). Special attention is paid to the justificatory role of egophoric and evidential marking; how these grammatical categories may influence the process of belief formation, and consequently, how this bears upon the nature of justification for testimonial beliefs. The final conclusion of the paper is that the anti-reductionist claim concerning the directness and non-inferential nature of testimonial knowledge is bound to meet objections grounded in the structure of many natural languages. This leads to a paradox: in discussion with reductionism, anti-reductionists do seek support for their arguments in common sense beliefs reflected in everyday language, and, on the other hand, their claims are incompatible with the linguistic data found in a number of natural languages.
... 28-29). 8 For an analysis of reductionism in the epistemology of testimony, please refer to, for instance, Adler (2002Adler ( , 2006, Audi (1997Audi ( , 2002Audi ( , 2004Audi ( , 2006, Coady (1992), Faulkner (2000), Fricker (1987Fricker ( , 1994Fricker ( , 1995Fricker ( , 2002Fricker ( , 2006, Gelfert (2014), Kusch (2002, Lackey (2003Lackey ( , 2006, Lehrer (1994), Root (2001). 9 In the epistemic appraisal of a direct testimony, the reductionist approach contrasts with another paradigm, referred to as anti-reductionism (in this respect see Adler 2006;Burge 1993 andCoady 1992;Dummett 1993;Gelfert 2014;Goldberg 2006;McDowell 1998;Stevenson 1993;Strawson 1994;Weiner 2003), that accords to testimony the same epistemic dignity as the other four sources of knowledge. ...
Article
Full-text available
Hearsay or indirect testimony receives little discussion even today in epistemology, and yet it represents one of the cardinal modes for the transmission of knowledge and for human cognitive development. It suffices to think of school education whereby a student listens to teachers reporting knowledge acquired, often indirectly, from the most varied sources such as text books, newspapers, personal memory, television, etc… Or let us consider the importance of oral tradition in the social and cultural development of civilisations. Or even let us call to mind the learning process of infants who, only thanks to the knowledge learned from others, succeed in learning the language. Finally, with the emerging digital technology, the information gleaned from third parties is influencing the creation of knowledge in a full gamut of fields, in a quasi-comprehensive manner. This leads us to claim that hearsay, despite the reductionist conceptual scheme to which epistemology has confined it in that indirect testimony, is in any case quintessential in the dissemination of knowledge. This work fully expounds upon the basic mechanism of indirect testimonial transmission and provides an epistemologically founded explanation of the cognitive possibilities of hearsay by investigating, in the light of the anti-reductionist paradigm, three mutually connected epistemic properties, namely trust, reputation and coherence, that are key in the epistemic justification of the truth acquired via an indirect testimony.
... This position takes testimony not to be among the standard basic sources of knowledge, which are taken to be memory, perception, reason and introspection. Modern proponents of such a position are Van Cleve (2006) and Audi (2006). Supporters of this position focus their criticism on arguing that the justification of testimonial claims has a non-testimonial basis (Goldman 1999, 126). ...
Book
Full-text available
Science, Democracy and Relativism proposes and defends the thesis that scientific knowledge is produced through a process of argumentation and consensus among relevant communities of scientists, and that it is disseminated to other epistemic communities according to communitarian epistemology. Such a thesis considers scientific knowledge as unashamedly relative, however this is regarded as a good thing for democracy, as it views knowledge as a matter of deliberation rather than something to be discovered. In order for democracy to flourish in modern settings where science is ever-present and in order to avoid the creation of unelected and unaccountable scientific elites essentially producing state policy, it is necessary for the lay public to co-author, co-produce and co-own scientific knowledge. The book spans many disciplines in order to make its central argument, with topics addressed ranging from political philosophy and theories of democracy, to the public understanding of science, science education, the sociology of scientific knowledge, science policy and the closure of scientific controversies, the philosophy of science, epistemology and semantics, and finally to sustainability science. The style of the prose and of the examples and topics discussed is intended to be deliberately as simple as possible, with the author hoping that it will be interesting and accessible enough to the interested lay-person.
... The epistemology of testimony, bearing on the fixation and justification of beliefs arising from testimony, has also been thought to benefit from a noninferentialist treatment (Audi 2006, Pritchard 2004, Weiner 2003. The mere recognition and parsing of testimony is sometimes taken to suffice (defeasibly, no doubt) for justified belief fixation, in some manner that need not involve inference. ...
Article
Full-text available
An influential view in the epistemology of testimony is that typical or paradigmatic beliefs formed through testimonial uptake are noninferential. Some epistemologists in particular defend a causal version of this view: that beliefs formed from testimony (BFT) are generated by noninferential processes. This view is implausible, however. It tends to be elaborated in terms that do not really bear it out – e.g. that BFT is fixed directly, immediately, unconsciously or automatically. Nor is causal noninferentialism regarding BFT plausibly expressed in terms of belief-independent belief formation; the complex cognitive details of BFT fixation do not accord well with such a view. But perhaps the most significant issue is that the relevant causal notion of inference itself is not particularly well-defined, at least with respect to BFT. Causal noninferentialism in this domain is obscure as a result, but this does not in turn clearly vindicate any interesting version of inferentialism.
... Expressing the social and communicable aspects of knowledge that I have gestured towards above, Welbourne (1986, p.5) advances the claim that "Our idea of knowledge, to put it roughly, is the idea of communicable information, information as to the facts, information which is objective in the sense that it is not dependent on any particular point of view, but is available to any one at all, with the capacity to understand the utterances in which it is embodied". Welbourne backs up this claim by arguing that one needs to contextualise the use of the concepts of belief and knowledge by acknowledging that they have (2006) and Audi (2006). Supporters of this position focus their criticism on arguing that the justification of testimonial claims has a non-testimonial basis (Goldman 1999, p.126). ...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper I will be implicitly defending the following thesis: An individual X obtains knowledge of scientific claim p in virtue of being a member of a community A that regards claim p as knowledge. The thesis states is that a claim p only becomes scientific knowledge once it's been through a process of validation by a scientific community. This is meant to be contrasted with the claim that individuals first obtain scientific knowledge perception or inference, and then transmit it to their colleagues, without the community playing any epistemological role. The strategy that I will follow is the following. In the first section I will consider the claim “that collaboration plays a causal role in advancing scientists' epistemic goals, and that its growing popularity is a consequence of its effectiveness in aiding communities of scientists to realize their epistemic goals”(Wray 2002). I will conclude that the claim is rather weak in the sense that it only justifies certain sections of scientific practice and does not establish that in principle scientific knowledge is produced in the manner described above. An attempt to strengthen the thesis will be made through the presentation of evidence that all through history in what is widely recognised as scientific activity (the activity which claims as its originators the methodological writings of Bacon and Newton) the scientist is never alone, even if they are the single author of a scientific work. I will draw on certain insights from Latour's (1987) study in the making of scientific knowledge to support the thesis that the individual scientist is necessarily surrounded by allies. This attempt will consist of two parts, the first being what the exploration of what I term the intra-laboratory aspect of scientific activity, and the second being the public forum aspect. I will conclude that the latter aspect is the aspect which supports the claim that the production of scientific knowledge is in principle social, that is that the appropriate unit of epistemological analysis of the production of scientific knowledge is the scientific community rather than the individual scientist. Finally, I will promote the thesis that community agreement is constitutive of knowledge, presenting and arguing for the communitarian account of scientific knowledge (Kusch 2002). I will briefly argue against an individualistic conception of knowledge acquisition, based on the model of the solitary Cartesian thinker and the notion that knowing something involves being in a certain mental state, and then briefly talk about belief as the property of plural subjects before I move on to present the communitarian model of knowledge acquisition.
... All this is still pretty vague, but one useful way to see the distinction that we care about here is to think of Pritchard's (2004) taxonomy, distinguishing between what he dubs Credulism, on one hand, and Reductionism on the other. Champions of reductionism include Adler (1994), Audi (1997Audi ( , 2004Audi ( , 2006, Fricker (1994Fricker ( , 1995Fricker ( , 2016Fricker ( , 2017, Hume (1739), Lipton (1998), Lyons (1997. For defenses of anti-reductionist (credulist) views, see, e.g. ...
Article
Full-text available
According to anti‐reductionism in the epistemology of testimony, testimonial entitlement is easy to come by: all you need to do is listen to what you are being told. Say you like anti‐reductionism; one question that you will need to answer is how come testimonial entitlement comes so cheap; after all, people are free to lie. This paper has two aims: first, it looks at the main anti‐reductionist answers to this question and argues that they remain unsatisfactory. Second, it goes on a rescue mission on behalf of anti‐reductionism. I put forth a novel, knowledge‐first anti‐reductionist account, which I dub ‘Testimonial Contractarianism’. According to the view defended here, in virtue of the social contract in play, compliance with the norms governing speech acts is the default position for speakers. Insofar as norm compliance is the default for speakers, I argue, all else equal, entitlement to believe is the default for hearers.
... 69 The empirical strength of the testimony is embedded in our consciousness; like seeing, hearing is believing. 70 Nonetheless, Ian Patel claims "that the role of testimony in the context of human rights goes far beyond a visual technological device to grab people's attention". 71 Although the request of measurable outcomes in human rights research has led to the presentation in a statistical table, the testimony remains the mainstay in exploring the evidence. ...
... As entailed by the account of telling developed above, a trusting hearer gains knowledge from what she is told only if the teller speaks from his knowledge.27 This being so, it seems that telling and testimony more broadly, like 26 27 See Audi (2006), Burge (1993), Ross (1975), Welboume (1986) Lackey (1999 argues that one can acquire knowledge that P from testimony that P, even though the testifier does not know that P. I agree with her. My Pinocchio case is precisely such a case, and I describe others in the next section. ...
Article
Full-text available
Orthodoxy in epistemology maintains that some sources of belief, e .g. perception and introspection, generate knowledge, while others, e.g. testimony and memory, preserve knowledge. An example from Jennifer Lackey - the Schoolteacher case - purports to show that testimony can generate knowledge. It is argued that Lackey's case fails to subvert the orthodox view, for the case does not involve the generation of knowledge by testimony. A modified version of the case does. Lackey's example illustrates the orthodox view; the revised case refutes it. The theoretical explanation of knowledge from testimony as information transmission explains how testimony transfers knowledge and why it can generate knowledge. It also reveals the real difference between so-ca lled "gene rative" and so-called "preservative" sources. The former extract information; the latter transmit information. Perception provides knowledge of the world, introspection knowledge of our selves, and mindreading knowledge of other minds. Reasoning extends knowledge beyond things we already know. Perception, introspection, mindreading, and reasoning are all ways of generating new knowledge, generating knowledge of even ts, facts, and states of affairs not known b efore. Memory differs. Memory preserves knowledge of things we already know. If I knew something at an earlier time, say on the basis of perception, and then I remember it now, then I know it now, but only because I knew it before. Testimony (the process of forming beliefs on the basis of understanding what other peop le say) looks like memory. If someone else knows something and tells me what they know, and I accept what they say, then I come to know it too. But I only acquire knowledge from accepting what they say if they know it already. Testimony, like memory, doesn't generate knowledge where there was no knowledge before; testimony preserves knowledge.
Article
Most of the literature on doxastic voluntarism has concentrated on the question of the voluntariness of belief and the issue of how our actual or possible control of our beliefs bears on our justification for holding them and on how, in the light of this control, our intellectual character should be assessed. This paper largely concerns a related question on which less philosophical work has been done: the voluntariness of the grounding of belief and the bearing of various views about this matter on justification, knowledge, and intellectual virtue. In part, my concern is the nature and extent of our voluntary control over our responses to reasons for believing—or over what we take to be such reasons. This paper provides a partial account of such control and, on the basis of the account, will clarify the criteria for appraising intellectual virtue.
Article
This thesis is about foundationalism in epistemology. It distinguishes between different forms of foundationalism and defends one particular version of this doctrine. Chapter 1 gives an account of the motivations for foundationalism, including the so-called epistemic regress argument. It criticizes recent accounts of the core doctrines of foundationalism, such as those of Michael Williams and Ernest Sosa, and proposes a different account according to which foundationalism is the view that (a) some of our beliefs must be non-inferentially justified, (b) perception is a source of non-inferential justification, and (c) perception is a basic source of such justification. Chapter 2 gives an account of traditional foundationalism and tries to identify both what is right with it and what is wrong with it. It argues that the basic insight of traditional foundationalism can be detached from some of the other doctrines with which it was associated by the traditional foundationalists. That insight concerns the role of perceptual awareness or acquaintance as a regress-terminating source of epistemic justification. Chapter 3 exploits this idea in defending a more modest form of foundationalism according to which ordinary perceptual beliefs may be foundational. Chapters 3 and 4 focus on two influential arguments against the view that ordinary beliefs about the world around us can be non- inferentially justified by perception. The first argument trades on the alleged fallibility of perceptual justification, the second on its defeasibility. It is shown that neither argument poses a genuine threat to the more modest version of foundationalism that I defend. Chapter 5 compares perception with other sources of non-inferential justification such as memory and testimony. It defends the view that perception is a privileged source of non- inferential justification, even if it isn't the only source of such justification. It also contrasts foundationalism with traditional forms of externalism such as reliabilism and explains why the latter should not be counted as a form of foundationalism.
Article
There has been much recent interest in questions about epistemic norms of assertion. Is there a norm specific to assertion? Is it constitutive of the speech act? Is there a unique norm of this sort? What is its content? These are important questions, so it's understandable that they have received the attention which they have. By contrast, little attention—little separate attention, at least—has been given to parallel questions about telling: Which norm or norms govern telling, etc.? A natural explanation for this disparity in interest is that it's felt generally to be obvious that there can be no significant distinction between the two types of norms, and hence no need to consider them separately. This paper challenges that general feeling. The first part argues that it's not obvious that the same norms govern assertion and telling. The second part argues that far from being obvious, this idea is mistaken: there are significant differences between the two types of norms.
Article
This paper explores the possibility that testimony is an a prio ri source, even if not a basic source, of rational support f or ce rtain kinds of cog nitions, particularly for a kind of acceptance that it is natural to call presumption. T he inquiry is conducted in the light of two important distinctions and the relation between them. One distinction is between belief and acceptance, the other between justification and rationality. Cognitive acceptance is also distinguished from b ehavioral acceptance, and their no rmative sta tus is shown to be governed by quite different principles. A major fo cus in the paper is the question of how the epistemic authority of testimony for cognitive acceptance of its content may depend on normative elements implicit in th e kind of l anguage learning and social coordination that are normal for at least the majority of human beings.
Article
Pictures are a quintessential source of aesthetic pleasure. This makes it easy to forget that they are epistemically valuable no less than they are aesthetically so. Pictures are representations. As such, they may furnish us with knowledge of the objects they represent. In this article I provide an account of why photographs are of greater epistemic utility than handmade pictures. To do so, I use a novel approach: I seek to illuminate the epistemic utility of photographs by situating both photographs and handmade pictures among the sources of knowledge. This method yields an account of photography's epistemic utility that better connects the issue with related issues in epistemology and is relatively superior to other accounts. Moreover, it answers a foundational issue in the epistemology of pictorial representation: ‘What kinds of knowledge do pictures furnish?’ I argue that photographs have greater epistemic utility than handmade pictures because photographs are sources of perceptual knowledge, while handmade pictures are sources of testimonial knowledge.
Article
Testimony is a vital and ubiquitous source of knowledge. Were we to refrain from accepting the testimony of others, our lives would be impoverished in startling and debilitating ways. Despite the vital role that testimony occupies in our epistemic lives, traditional epistemological theories have focused primarily on other sources, such as sense perception, memory, and reason, with relatively little attention devoted specifically to testimony. In recent years, however, the epistemic significance of testimony has been more fully appreciated. I shall here focus on two questions that have received the most attention in recent work in the epistemology of testimony. First, is testimonial knowledge acquired only by being transmitted from speaker to hearer? Second, must a hearer have positive reasons to justifiedly accept a speaker's testimony?
Article
Recent literature on the relationship between knowledge and justice has tended to focus exclusively on the social and ethical dimensions of this relationship (e.g. social injustices related to knowledge and power, etc.). For the purposes of this article, I am interested in examining the virtue of justice and its effects on the cognitive faculties of its possessor (and, correspondingly, the effects of the vice of injustice). Drawing upon Thomas Aquinas’s account of the virtue of justice, I argue that in certain cases justice can be a criterion of epistemic evaluation and that it deserves more attention than it has been given among virtue epistemologists. More precisely, the virtue of justice may become a criterion of epistemic evaluation in cases when a belief is formed on the basis of testimony. It would seem that there are cases when A’s assent to proposition p is something that is owed to B on the basis of B’s testimony; or there may be instances when A is culpable for declining to let B’s testimony have any effect on A’s belief. I briefly sketch four distinct scenarios in which this bears out.
Article
Based on an empirical study of a research team in natural science, the author argues that collaborating scientists do not trust each other completely. Due to the inherent incompleteness of trust, epistemic trust among scientists is not sufficient to manage epistemic dependency in research teams. To mitigate the limitations of epistemic trust, scientists resort to specific strategies of indirect assessment such as dialoguing practices and the probing of explanatory responsiveness. Furthermore, they rely upon impersonal trust and deploy practices of hierarchical authorship.
Article
Much of what we learn from talking and listening does not qualify as testimonial knowledge: we can learn a great deal from other people without simply accepting what they say as being true. In this article, I examine the ways in which we acquire skills or knowledge how from our interactions with other people, and I discuss whether there is a useful notion of testimonial knowledge how.
Article
Full-text available
I present an account of what it is to trust a speaker, and argue that the account can explain the common intuitions which structure the debate about the transmission view of testimony. According to the suggested account, to trust a speaker is to grant her epistemic authority on the asserted proposition, and hence to see her opinion as issuing a second order, preemptive reason for believing the proposition. The account explains the intuitive appeal of the basic principle associated with the transmission view of testimony: the principle according to which, a listener can normally obtain testimonial knowledge that p by believing a speaker who testifies that p only if the speaker knows that p. It also explains a common response to counterexamples to this principle: that these counterexamples do not involve normal cases of testimonial knowledge.
Article
This paper explains how the notion of justification transmission can be used to ground a notion of knowledge transmission. It then explains how transmission theories can characterise schoolteacher cases, which have prominently been presented as counterexamples to transmission theories.
Article
I describe two ways of thinking about what constitutes a knowledgeable assertion – the ‘orthodox view’ and the ‘isomorphic view’. I argue that we should discard the orthodox view and replace it with the isomorphic view. The latter is more natural and has greater theoretical utility than the former.
Article
Thomas Reid draws a distinction between the social and solitary operations of mind—acts of mind that require other intelligent beings versus those that may performed on one’s own. Yet his distinction obscures the irreducibly social character of the solitary operations. This paper preserves Reid’s distinction while accommodating the social character of the solitary operations. According to Reid, the solitary operations presuppose the social operations, expressed in what he calls the ‘natural language’ of mankind—a language that communicates the intentions that give rise to the agreements by which the conventions of artificial languages are developed. Using artificial languages, we begin to sort the world into kinds and to anticipate the regular events that make a practical difference in our lives, providing the general conceptions that give our trains of thought the order and regularity required to form the solitary operations. By using artificial languages, we adapt social operations to solitary ends, to think alone and in silence.
Article
Arguments from evil purport to show that some fact about evil makes it (at least) probable that God does not exist. Skeptical theism is held to undermine many versions of the argument from evil: it is thought to undermine a crucial inference that such arguments often rely on. Skeptical objections to skeptical theism claim that it (skeptical theism) entails an excessive amount of skepticism and therefore should be rejected. In this article, I show that skeptical objections to skeptical theism have a very limited scope: only those who reject certain (apparently) popular epistemological theories will be threatened by them.
Chapter
Within this paper, we argue that Audi’s transmission principle for testimony-based knowledge is untenable, while proposing an alternative route for him to take. We will first set out the core tenets of Audi’s general epistemology (Sect. 3.2) before we examine his account of testimony more specifically (Sect. 3.3). Then, we proceed by showing that Audi’s transmission principle for testimony-based knowledge falls prey to a number of prominent counterexamples discussed in the recent literature (Sect. 3.4). In reaction to this, we will put forward the thesis that in cases of testimonial knowledge propositional justification, in contrast to knowledge, is being transmitted. Finally, we conclude that Audi loses sight of this option due to his overly strict classification of knowledge in externalist and justification in internalist terms (Sect. 3.5).
Chapter
2.1 The external and the internal world—There is more in the universe than objects and states of consciousness—Animal and human certitudes—Sosa on “animal knowledge” and “reflective knowledge”—What is peculiar to man: cultural historicity as a meta-competence. 2.2 History as science versus history as worldview—Unreliability of our information sources—Distinction between strong and weak knowledge: how the immediacy or scientificity of strong knowledge contrasts with the testimonial character of weak knowledge—Differences to Malcolm’s view—Russell on the acquaintance with “historical knowledge” and the case of scientific testimony—Epistemological precision: Quine’s radical empiricism—Immediate, mediate and scientific knowledge as interconnected: their problematic heterogeneity—Personal perspectives and interpersonal praxis—The world primarily consists of states of affairs, which are independent of our subjectivity. 2.3 Relevance of the ontological intertwinedness suggested by the early Wittgenstein: the concepts of “case”, “fact” and “state of affairs”—Lewis’ understanding of what facts are—The difficulties posed by the Tractarian solipsistic-realistic representation—Looking for a halfway between extreme internalism and naïve materialism—Each event in the world necessarily exceeds the many possible representations (true or false) that construe it so-and-so—The world as depository of what exists or has existed—DeRose and the variable truth-conditionality that seems specific to a contextualist approach.
Article
Full-text available
In this essay, I oppose the 'Asymmetry Thesis' according to which moral matters are simply different in kind from non-moral matters when it comes to testimony because moral matters require understanding in a way in which non-moral matters do not. I argue that the requirement of understanding is not unique to morality and also deny that there is a genuine requirement of understanding after all. Instead, cases of moral and non-moral testimony are often troubling for the same reason, namely the violation of the requirement of using one's own cognitive faculties when it is both possible and feasible. I will argue for this account in two stages: Firstly, I will present particular examples of testimony which aim to render this proposal initially plausible via inductive reasoning. Secondly, I will present a transcendental argument from the social function of testimony and explain why such a requirement in fact holds.
Article
Full-text available
Social epistemology has paid little attention to oral historiography as a source of expert insight into the credibility of testimony. One extant suggestion, however, is that oral historians treat testimony with a default trust reflecting a standing warrant for accepting testimony. The view that there is such a standing warrant is sometimes known as the Acceptance Principle for Testimony (APT). I argue that the practices of oral historians do not count in support of APT, all in all. Experts have commonly described oral traditions as oriented towards political, cultural and entertainment ends, and not only—or not even—towards an accurate depiction of past events. Even when accuracy is the emphasis, many historians of oral tradition do not trust such testimony as APT would suggest; the importance of gathering supporting evidence is a consistent emphasis. Yet oral historiography, both of traditions and more generally, does hold out lessons for the epistemology of testimony, implicating a wider range of social and contextual factors than the philosophical literature might otherwise reflect. Perhaps most importantly, it confirms the critical epistemological role of the audience in interpreting testimony and actively constructing testimonial contexts, a point that extends quite naturally to common testimonial exchanges.
Article
In the age of spirited debates about the mediating role of technologies, the other side of the coin is the state of direct experience in contemporary news production, that is, cases in which news reporters still rely on traditional channels such as “legwork,” “firsthand witnessing,” or “shoe-leather reporting.” The present study is a systematic attempt to identify journalists’ reasons for engaging in legwork, by recreating item by item the work processes and reasoning behind hundreds of individual news reports produced in the digital age, across Israeli print, television, radio, and online news outlets (N = 859). Insofar as legwork can serve as a proxy for painstaking journalism, journalists’ decisions make some difference in determining if more or less legwork will ensue. The data avail an opportunity to explore scholarly musings about journalists’ motivations behind legwork: be they knowledge related, medium related, or event related. We find support for all three possibilities and discuss the implications of these findings.
Thesis
Full-text available
The epistemological concept of “testimony” refers to the social practice of acquiring beliefs and knowledge from what others tell us. Disparaged by philosophers as incompatible with rational autonomy and by educationalists as a passive form of learning, it is nevertheless a source we rely on for formative learning as children and throughout our lives. Both traditionalist and progressivist educationalists have underestimated the cognitive achievement involved in comprehending and learning from testimonial speech acts and also the role such speech acts play in argumentation. Since the Enlightenment debates about testimony have distinguished between reductionist and non-reductionist justifications for accepting beliefs from testimony. These, like the more recent trust-based theories of testimony, tend to conflate different testimonial speech acts, and fail to reconcile a notion of trust in epistemic authority with a convincing account of rational autonomy. The thesis confronts epistemological conclusions concerning rational trust in the epistemic authority of others with Austinian pragmatics and Bakhtinian dialogism to produce an account of responsible pedagogy as valuing both the repertoire of informative speech and the virtues and commitments inherent in producing and responding with epistemic and linguistic discrimination. Dialogistic and sociocultural theories of pedagogy need to be informed by a socialized epistemology that: a) is responsive to the pragmatics of language, b) incorporates a notion of autonomy founded on self-trust and integrity, c) emphasizes the role of intellectual conscientiousness and virtue in epistemic and linguistic achievements. Theories of dialogic pedagogy should recognize that valuing discussion and “student voice” requires us to acknowledge the importance, as a prerequisite of classroom dialogue, of teachers responding sensitively to students as knowers and testifiers with complex rational commitments of their own.
Article
There's been a great deal of interest in epistemology regarding what it takes for a hearer to come to know on the basis of a speaker's say-so. That is, there's been much work on the epistemology of testimony. However, what about when hearers don't believe speakers when they should? In other words, what are we to make of when testimony goes wrong? A recent topic of interest in epistemology and feminist philosophy is how we sometimes fail to believe speakers due to inappropriate prejudices – implicit or explicit. This is known as epistemic injustice. In this article, I discuss Miranda Fricker's groundbreaking work on epistemic injustice, as well as more recent developments that both offer critique and expansion on the nature and extent of epistemic injustice. © 2016 The Author(s) Philosophy Compass
Article
Muito do que conhecemos deriva do relato de outras pessoas. Nem todo relato, entretanto, e apto para produzir crencas justificadas. O que se pretende neste paper e analisar as condicoes que devem ser satisfeitas para que um testemunho possa produzir crencas justificadas e, a partir dai, conhecimento. Assumindo uma posicao nao reducionista do testemunho, segue-se a contribuicao de Robert Audi para concluir que o testemunho e fonte legitima de justificacao e de conhecimento, argumentando que a confianca que se tem nos outros pode, em circunstâncias adequadas, satisfazer as condicoes para a justificacao e para o conhecimento.
Article
An ongoing debate concerns whether agents can come to know that a particular piece of art is beautiful on the basis of someone's say-so. This debate concerns the epistemology of aesthetic testimony. Pessimists of various stripes claim that testimony-based knowledge of aesthetic propositions is impossible; optimists of various stripes claim that such testimony-based knowledge is possible. In this paper, I defend an optimist position: agents can come to know aesthetic propositions on the basis of testimony. Moreover, agents come to gain this knowledge quite readily. I make my case by considering a parallel debate in epistemology regarding assertions based on a particular kind of testimony, cases of what Jennifer Lackey (2011, 2013) has called “isolated second-hand knowledge” (ISHK). I argue that assertions based on isolated second-hand knowledge are appropriate, and hearers can come to know aesthetic propositions via testimony.
Article
Journalists apparently maneuver between their inability to validate every single bit of information and the ramifications of publishing unverified reports. This study is the first attempt to uncover and characterize the reasoning which underlies the journalistic journey from skepticism to knowledge. We draw on the philosophical field of the ‘epistemology of testimony’ and analyze a robust data set. Data consist of detailed cross-verification measures – a reification of journalistic skepticism – underlying a large sample of individual news items in Israeli print, radio, online, and television news (N = 847), following a reconstruction of work processes. Far from being passive recipients of second-hand information, we theorize that reporters make systematic use of ‘evidence of (sources’) evidence’ – a common but previously unarticulated evidence type.
Article
A view of knowledge—what I call the Deserving Credit View of Knowledge(DCVK)—found in much of the recent epistemological literature, particularly among so-called virtue epistemologists, centres around the thesis that knowledge is something for which a subject deserves credit. Indeed, this is said to be the central difference between those true beliefs that qualify as knowledge and those that are true merely by luck—the former, unlike the latter, are achievements of the subject and are thereby creditable to her. Moreover, it is often further noted that deserving credit is what explains the additional value that knowledge has over merely lucky true belief. In this paper, I argue that the general conception of knowledge found in the DCVK is fundamentally incorrect. In particular, I show that deserving credit cannot be what distinguishes knowledge from merely lucky true belief since knowledge is not something for which a subject always deserves credit.