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Summary A deductive inference transmits warrant just in case, roughly put, one can earn a warrant for the conclusion by deploying one's warrant for the premise and performing the deduction. If one cannot earn a warrant for the conclusion in this way, then the inference is said to be an instance of 'transmission failure'. Transmission failure is an idea that divides epistemologists.  Some have insisted that any deductive inference will transmit warrant. And, even amongst those who accept that there are genuine cases of transmission failure, there is relatively little agreement as to which the offending inferences are and what is responsible for the phenomenon.  The issue takes on an additional philosophical significance due to the fact that some of the disputed inferences are themselves philosophically significant - such as McKinsey's paradox for externalist theories of content and Moore's notorious 'proof' of the existence of the external world.
Key works Ideas about the transmission of warrant are implicit in Wittgenstein's comments on Moore's proof of the existence of the external world in Wittgenstein 1969. The first detailed discussion of warrant transmission and transmission failure was in Wright 1986 where the context of the discussion was, once again, the apparent shortcomings of Moore's proof. The notion of transmission failure next surfaced in an attempt by Martin Davies to defuse the McKinsey paradox for externalist theories of content, stimulating a flurry of interest in the topic - see Davies 2000 and Davies 2000. Wright's early views of warrant transmission and transmission failure were refined in Wright 2000 in which he also discussed possible applications to the McKinsey paradox. While there has been more recent work on transmission failure and the McKinsey paradox, papers such as Wright 2002 and Pryor 2004 moved scepticism and Moore's proof back to centre stage. These papers also served to link questions about warrant transmission with certain current questions in the epistemology of perception. Much subsequent work has explored these connections. In Okasha 2004 Samir Okasha outlined the first proposed Bayesian treatment of transmission failure. The project of attempting to reconstruct the phenomenon of transmission failure from within various formal theories of evidential support remains a very lively one - a vivid example of the kind of fruitful work that is being done in the area of overlap between formal and traditional epistemology.
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  1. Helen Beebee (2002). Transfer of Warrant, Begging the Question, and Semantic Externalism. Philosophical Quarterly 51 (204):356-74.
  2. Paul Boghossian (2003). Blind Reasoning. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 77 (1):225–248.
    The paper asks under what conditions deductive reasoning transmits justification from its premises to its conclusion. It argues that both standard externalist and standard internalist accounts of this phenomenon fail. The nature of this failure is taken to indicate the way forward: basic forms of deductive reasoning must justify by being instances of ‘blind but blameless’ reasoning. Finally, the paper explores the suggestion that an inferentialist account of the logical constants can help explain how such reasoning is possible.
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  3. J. Brown (2003). The Reductio Argument and Transmission of Warrant. In Susana Nuccetelli (ed.), New Essays on Semantic Externalism and Self-Knowledge. MIT Press.
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  4. Jessica Brown (2004). Wright on Transmission Failure. Analysis 64 (1):57–67.
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  5. Anthony L. Brueckner (1985). Transmission for Knowledge Not Established. Philosophical Quarterly 35 (139):193-195.
    In "Nozick on Scepticism", Graeme Forbes attempts to establish a Transmission Principle for knowledge which has been challenged by a number of anti-sceptical philosophers (such as Nozick). This principle (or something like it) seems to be required by Cartesian sceptical arguments, so if it could be refuted, this would apparently rid us of such scepticism. I do not believe that Nozick or anyone else has refuted the principle, yet I will argue that Forbes has certainly failed to establish it.
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  6. J. Adam Carter & Philip J. Nickel (2014). On Testimony and Transmission. Episteme 11 (02):145-155.
    Jennifer Lackey’s case “Creationist Teacher,” in which students acquire knowledge of evolutionary theory from a teacher who does not herself believe the theory, has been discussed widely as a counterexample to so-called transmission theories of testimonial knowledge and justification. The case purports to show that a speaker need not herself have knowledge or justification in order to enable listeners to acquire knowledge or justification from her assertion. The original case has been criticized on the ground that it does not really (...)
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  7. Jake Chandler (2010). The Transmission of Support: A Bayesian Re-Analysis. [REVIEW] Synthese 176 (3):333 - 343.
    Crispin Wright’s discussion of the notion of ‘transmission-failure’ promises to have important philosophical ramifications, both in epistemology and beyond. This paper offers a precise, formal characterisation of the concept within a Bayesian framework. The interpretation given avoids the serious shortcomings of a recent alternative proposal due to Samir Okasha.
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  8. Annalisa Coliva (2012). Moore's Proof, Liberals, and Conservatives : Is There a (Wittgensteinian) Third Way? In Crispin Wright & Annalisa Coliva (eds.), Mind, Meaning, and Knowledge: Themes From the Philosophy of Crispin Wright. Oxford University Press.
    In the last few years there has been a resurgence of interest in Moore’s Proof of the existence of an external world, which is now often rendered as follows:1 (I) Here’s a hand (II) If there is a hand here, there is an external world Therefore (III) There is an external world The contemporary debate has been mostly triggered by Crispin Wright’s influential—conservative —“Facts and certainty” and further fostered by Jim Pryor’s recent—liberal—“What’s wrong with Moore’s argument?”.2 This debate is worth (...)
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  9. Charles B. Cross (forthcoming). A Logical Transmission Principle for Conclusive Reasons. Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-18.
    Dretske's conclusive reasons account of knowledge is designed to explain how epistemic closure can fail when the evidence for a belief does not transmit to some of that belief's logical consequences. Critics of Dretske dispute the argument against closure while joining Dretske in writing off transmission. This paper shows that, in the most widely accepted system for counterfactual logic (David Lewis's system VC), conclusive reasons are governed by an informative, non-trivial, logical transmission principle. If r is a conclusive reason for (...)
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  10. Martin Davies (2009). Two Purposes of Arguing and Two Epistemic Projects. In Ian Ravenscroft (ed.), Minds, Ethics, and Conditionals: Themes From the Philosophy of Frank Jackson. Oup Oxford.
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  11. Martin Davies (2004). Epistemic Entitlement, Warrant Transmission and Easy Knowledge. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 78 (1):213–245.
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  12. Martin Davies (2003). Externalism, Self-Knowledge and Transmission of Warrant. In Maria J. Frapolli & E. Romero (eds.), Meaning, Basic Self-Knowledge, and Mind. Csli.
    Externalism about some mental property, M, is the thesis that whether a person (or other physical being) has M depends, not only on conditions inside the person.
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  13. Martin Davies (2000). Externalism, Architecturalism, and Epistemic Warrant. In C. Wright, B. Smith & C. Macdonald (eds.), Knowing Our Own Minds. Oxford University Press. 321-363.
    This paper addresses a problem about epistemic warrant. The problem is posed by philosophical arguments for externalism about the contents of thoughts, and similarly by philosophical arguments for architecturalism about thinking, when these arguments are put together with a thesis of first person authority. In each case, first personal knowledge about our thoughts plus the kind of knowledge that is provided by a philosophical argument seem, together, to open an unacceptably ‘non-empirical’ route to knowledge of empirical facts. Furthermore, this unwelcome (...)
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  14. Martin Davies (2000). Externalism and Armchair Knowledge. In Paul A. Boghossian & Christopher Peacocke (eds.), New Essays on the a Priori. Oxford University Press. 384--414.
    [I]f you could know a priori that you are in a given mental state, and your being in that state conceptually or logically implies the existence of external objects, then you could know a priori that the external world exists. Since you obviously _can.
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  15. Philip A. Ebert (2005). Transmission of Warrant-Failure and the Notion of Epistemic Analyticity. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (4):505 – 521.
    In this paper I will argue that Boghossian's explanation of how we can acquire a priori knowledge of logical principles through implicit definitions commits a transmission of warrant-failure. To this end, I will briefly outline Boghossian's account, followed by an explanation of what a transmission of warrant-failure consists in. I will also show that this charge is independent of the worry of rule-circularity which has been raised concerning the justification of logical principles and of which Boghossian is fully aware. My (...)
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  16. S. C. Goldberg (2004). Radical Interpretation, Understanding, and the Testimonial Transmission of Knowledge. Synthese 138 (3):387 - 416.
    In this paper I argue that RadicalInterpretation (RI), taken to be a methodological doctrine regarding the conditions under which an interpretation of an utterance is both warranted and correct, has unacceptable implications for the conditions on (ascriptions of) understanding. The notion of understanding at play is that which underwrites the testimonial transmission of knowledge. After developing this notion I argue that, on the assumption of RI, hearers will fail to have such understanding in situations in which we should want to (...)
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  17. Sanford Goldberg (2007). How Lucky Can You Get? Synthese 158 (3):315 - 327.
    In this paper, I apply Duncan Pritchard’s anti-luck epistemology to the case of knowledge through testimony. I claim (1) that Pritchard’s distinction between veritic and reflective luck provides a nice taxonomy of testimony cases, (2) that the taxonomic categories that emerge can be used to suggest precisely what epistemic statuses are transmissible through testimony, and (3) that the resulting picture can make clear how testimony can actually be knowledge-generating.
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  18. Joachim Horvath (2008). Testimony, Transmission, and Safety. Abstracta 4 (1):27-43.
    Most philosophers believe that testimony is not a fundamental source of knowledge, but merely a way to transmit already existing knowledge. However, Jennifer Lackey has presented some counterexamples which show that one can actually come to know something through testimony that no one ever knew before. Yet, the intuitive idea can be preserved by the weaker claim that someone in a knowledge-constituting testimonial chain has to have access to some non-testimonial source of knowledge with regard to what is testified. But (...)
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  19. Jesper Kallestrup (2009). Reliabilist Justification: Basic, Easy, and Brute. [REVIEW] Acta Analytica 24 (3):155-171.
    Process reliabilists hold that in order for a belief to be justified, it must result from a reliable cognitive process. They also hold that a belief can be basically justified: justified in this manner without having any justification to believe that belief is reliably produced. Fumerton (1995), Vogel (2000), and Cohen (2002) have objected that such basic justification leads to implausible easy justification by means of either epistemic closure principles or so-called track record arguments. I argue that once we carefully (...)
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  20. Arnon Keren (2007). Epistemic Authority, Testimony and the Transmission of Knowledge†. Episteme 4 (3):368-381.
    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 (...)
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  21. M. Kotzen (2012). Dragging and Confirming. Philosophical Review 121 (1):55-93.
    This essay addresses the question of when evidence for a stronger claim H1 also constitutes evidence for a weaker claim H2. Although the answer “Always” is tempting, it is false on a natural Bayesian conception of evidence. This essay first describes some prima facie counterexamples to this answer and surveys some weaker answers and rejects them. Next, it proposes an answer, which appeals to the “Dragging Condition.” After explaining and arguing for its use of the Dragging Condition, the essay argues (...)
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  22. Jennifer Lackey (2006). Learning From Words. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 73 (1):77–101.
    Testimony is an invaluable source of knowledge. We rely on the reports of those around us for everything from the ingredients in our food and medicine to the identity of our family members. Recent years have seen an explosion of interest in the epistemology of testimony. Despite the multitude of views offered, a single thesis is nearly universally accepted: testimonial knowledge is acquired through the process of transmission from speaker to hearer. In this book, Jennifer Lackey shows that this thesis (...)
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  23. Jennifer Lackey (1999). Testimonial Knowledge and Transmission. Philosophical Quarterly 50 (197):471-490.
    We often talk about knowledge being transmitted via testimony. This suggests a picture of testimony with striking similarities to memory. For instance, it is often assumed that neither is a generative source of knowledge: while the former transmits knowledge from one speaker to another, the latter preserves beliefs from one time to another. These considerations give rise to a stronger and a weaker thesis regarding the transmission of testimonial knowledge. The stronger thesis is that each speaker in a chain of (...)
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  24. Maria Lasonen-Aarnio (2008). Single Premise Deduction and Risk. Philosophical Studies 141 (2):157 - 173.
    It is tempting to think that multi premise closure creates a special class of paradoxes having to do with the accumulation of risks, and that these paradoxes could be escaped by rejecting the principle, while still retaining single premise closure. I argue that single premise deduction is also susceptible to risks. I show that what I take to be the strongest argument for rejecting multi premise closure is also an argument for rejecting single premise closure. Because of the symmetry between (...)
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  25. Aidan McGlynn (2014). On Epistemic Alchemy. In Dylan Dodd Elia Zardini (ed.), Scepticism and Perceptual Justification. Oxford University Press. 173-189.
    Crispin Wright has proposed that one has entitlements to accept certain propositions that play a foundational role within one’s body of belief. Such an entitlement is a kind of warrant that does not require the possessor to have acquired evidence speaking in favor of the proposition in question. The proposal allows Wright to concede much of the force of the most powerful arguments for scepticism, while avoiding the truly sceptical conclusion that one lacks warrant for most of one’s beliefs. Here (...)
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  26. Michael McKinsey (2003). Transmission of Warrant and Closure of Apriority. In Susana Nuccetelli (ed.), New Essays on Semantic Externalism and Self-Knowledge. MIT Press. 97--116.
    In my 1991 paper, AAnti-Individualism and Privileged Access,@ I argued that externalism in the philosophy of mind is incompatible with the thesis that we have privileged , nonempirical access to the contents of our own thoughts.1 One of the most interesting responses to my argument has been that of Martin Davies (1998, 2000, and Chapter _ above) and Crispin Wright (2000 and Chapter _ above), who describe several types of cases to show that warrant for a premise does not always (...)
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  27. Brian P. McLaughlin (2003). McKinsey's Challenge, Warrant Transmission, and Skepticism. In Susana Nuccetelli (ed.), New Essays on Semantic Externalism and Self-Knowledge. MIT Press.
  28. Luca Moretti (2014). The Dogmatist, Moore's Proof and Transmission Failure. Analysis 74 (3):382-389.
    According to Jim Pryor’s dogmatism, if you have an experience as if P, you acquire immediate prima facie justification for believing P. Pryor contends that dogmatism validates Moore’s infamous proof of a material world. Against Pryor, I argue that if dogmatism is true, Moore’s proof turns out to be non-transmissive of justification according to one of the senses of non-transmissivity defined by Crispin Wright. This type of non-transmissivity doesn’t deprive dogmatism of its apparent antisceptical bite.
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  29. Luca Moretti (2012). Wright, Okasha and Chandler on Transmission Failure. Synthese 184 (3):217-234.
    Crispin Wright has given an explanation of how a first time warrant can fall short of transmitting across a known entailment. Formal epistemologists have struggled to turn Wright’s informal explanation into cogent Bayesian reasoning. In this paper, I analyse two Bayesian models of Wright’s account respectively proposed by Samir Okasha and Jake Chandler. I argue that both formalizations are unsatisfactory for different reasons, and I lay down a third Bayesian model that appears to me to capture the valid kernel of (...)
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  30. Luca Moretti & Tommaso Piazza, Transmission of Justification and Warrant. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Transmission of justification across inference is a valuable and indeed ubiquitous epistemic phenomenon in everyday life and science. It is thanks to the phenomenon of epistemic transmission that inferential reasoning is a means for substantiating predictions of future events and, more generally, for expanding the sphere of our justified beliefs or reinforcing the justification of beliefs that we already entertain. However, transmission of justification is not without exceptions. As a few epistemologists have come to realise, more or less trivial forms (...)
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  31. Luca Moretti & Tommaso Piazza (2013). When Warrant Transmits and When It Doesn't: Towards a General Framework. Synthese 190 (13):2481-2503.
    In this paper we focus on transmission and failure of transmission of warrant. We identify three individually necessary and jointly sufficient conditions for transmission of warrant, and we show that their satisfaction grounds a number of interesting epistemic phenomena that have not been sufficiently appreciated in the literature. We then scrutinise Wright’s analysis of transmission failure and improve on extant readings of it. Nonetheless, we present a Bayesian counterexample that shows that Wright’s analysis is partially incoherent with our analysis of (...)
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  32. Ram Neta (2007). Fixing the Transmission: The New Mooreans. In Susana Nuccetelli & Gary Seay (eds.), Themes From G. E. Moore: New Essays in Epistemology and Ethics. Clarendon Press.
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  33. Susana Nuccetelli (ed.) (2003). New Essays on Semantic Externalism and Self-Knowledge. MIT Press.
    This book shows that the debate over the compatibility of externalism and self-knowledge has led to the investigation of a variety of topics, including the a...
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  34. Samir Okasha (2004). Wright on the Transmission of Support: A Bayesian Analysis. Analysis 64 (2):139–146.
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  35. David Owens (2006). Testimony and Assertion. Philosophical Studies 130 (1):105 - 129.
    Two models of assertion are described and their epistemological implications considered. The assurance model draws a parallel between the ethical norms surrounding promising and the epistemic norms which facilitate the transmission of testimonial knowledge. This model is rejected in favour of the view that assertion transmits knowledge by expressing belief. I go on to compare the epistemology of testimony with the epistemology of memory.
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  36. Duncan Pritchard (2001). A Puzzle About Warrant. Philosophical Inquiry 23 (1-2):59-71.
    A puzzle about warranted belief, often attributed to Kripke, has recently come to prominence. This puzzle claims to show that it follows from the possession of a warrant for one's belief in an empirical proposition that one is entitled to dismiss all subsequent evidence against that proposition as misleading. The two main solutions that have been offered to this puzzle in the recent literature - by James Cargile and David Lewis - argue for a revisionist epistemology which, respectively, either denies (...)
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  37. James Pryor (2012). When Warrant Transmits. In Crispin Wright & Annalisa Coliva (eds.), Mind, Meaning, and Knowledge: Themes From the Philosophy of Crispin Wright. Oxford University Press.
    Consider the argument: Circus-1 Men in clown suits are handing out tickets. So, probably: Circus-2 There’s a circus in town. So: Circus-3 There’s an entertainment venue in town. Presumably you’d be able to warrantedly believe Circus-2 on the basis of Circus-1. And we can suppose you’re reasonably certain that wherever there are circuses, there are entertainment venues. So you’d seem to be in a position to reasonably go on to infer Circus-3.
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  38. James Pryor (2004). What's Wrong with Moore's Argument? Philosophical Issues 14 (1):349-378.
    Consider the following well-worn example, first put forward by Fred Dretske. You’re at the zoo, and in the pen in front of you is a striped horse-like animal. The sign on the pen says “Zebra.” Assuming that animal really is a zebra, it would seem that your evidence is perfectly adequate to enable you to know that it’s a zebra. So you know.
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  39. James Pryor (2004). What's Wrong with Moore's Argument? Philosophical Issues 14 (1):349–378.
    Something about this argument sounds funny. As we’ll see, though, it takes some care to identify exactly what Moore has done wrong. Iwill assume that Moore knows premise (2) to be true. One could inquire into how he knows it, and whether that knowledge can be defeated; but Iwon’t. I’ll focus instead on what epistemic relations Moore has to premise (1) and to his conclusion (3). It may matter which epistemic relations we choose to consider. Some philosophers will diagnose Moore’s (...)
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  40. Geoff Pynn (2013). The Bayesian Explanation of Transmission Failure. Synthese 190 (9):1519-1531.
    Even if our justified beliefs are closed under known entailment, there may still be instances of transmission failure. Transmission failure occurs when P entails Q, but a subject cannot acquire a justified belief that Q by deducing it from P. Paradigm cases of transmission failure involve inferences from mundane beliefs (e.g., that the wall in front of you is red) to the denials of skeptical hypotheses relative to those beliefs (e.g., that the wall in front of you is not white (...)
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  41. William Roche & Tomoji Shogenji (2013). Confirmation, Transitivity, and Moore: The Screening-Off Approach. Philosophical Studies (3):1-21.
    It is well known that the probabilistic relation of confirmation is not transitive in that even if E confirms H1 and H1 confirms H2, E may not confirm H2. In this paper we distinguish four senses of confirmation and examine additional conditions under which confirmation in different senses becomes transitive. We conduct this examination both in the general case where H1 confirms H2 and in the special case where H1 also logically entails H2. Based on these analyses, we argue that (...)
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  42. R. M. Sainsbury (2000). Warrant-Transmission, Defeaters and Disquotation. Noûs 34 (s1):191 - 200.
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  43. Sarah Sawyer (2006). Externalism, Apriority and Transmission of Warrant. In Tomáš Marvan (ed.), What Determines Content?: The Internalism/Externalism Dispute. Cambridge Scholars Press.
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  44. Joshua Schechter (2013). Rational Self-Doubt and the Failure of Closure. Philosophical Studies 163 (2):428-452.
    Closure for justification is the claim that thinkers are justified in believing the logical consequences of their justified beliefs, at least when those consequences are competently deduced. Many have found this principle to be very plausible. Even more attractive is the special case of Closure known as Single-Premise Closure. In this paper, I present a challenge to Single-Premise Closure. The challenge is based on the phenomenon of rational self-doubt – it can be rational to be less than fully confident in (...)
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  45. Joseph Shieber (2013). Toward a Truly Social Epistemology: Babbage, the Division of Mental Labor, and the Possibility of Socially Distributed Warrant. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 86 (2):266-294.
    In what follows, I appeal to Charles Babbage’s discussion of the division of mental labor to provide evidence that—at least with respect to the social acquisition, storage, retrieval, and transmission of knowledge—epistemologists have, for a broad range of phenomena of crucial importance to actual knowers in their epistemic practices in everyday life, failed adequately to appreciate the significance of socially distributed cognition. If the discussion here is successful, I will have demonstrated that a particular presumption widely held within the contemporary (...)
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  46. Joseph Shieber (2012). Against Credibility. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (1):1 - 18.
    How does the monitoring of a testifier's credibility by recipients of testimony bear upon the epistemic licence accruing to a recipient's belief in the testifier's communications? According to an intuitive and philosophically influential conception, licensed acceptance of testimony requires that recipients of testimony monitor testifiers with respect to their credibility. I argue that this conception, however, proves to be untenable when confronted with the wealth of empirical evidence bearing on the ways in which testifiers and their interlocutors actually interact.
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  47. Nicholas Silins (2005). Transmission Failure Failure. Philosophical Studies 126 (1):71 - 102.
    I set out the standard view about alleged examples of failure of transmission of warrant, respond to two cases for the view, and argue that the view is false. The first argument for the view neglects the distinction between believing a proposition on the basis of a justification and merely having a justification to believe a proposition. The second argument for the view neglects the position that one's justification for believing a conclusion can be one's premise for the conclusion, rather (...)
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  48. Martin Smith (2009). Transmission Failure Explained. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (1):164-189.
    In this paper I draw attention to a peculiar epistemic feature exhibited by certain deductively valid inferences. Certain deductively valid inferences are unable to enhance the reliability of one's belief that the conclusion is true—in a sense that will be fully explained. As I shall show, this feature is demonstrably present in certain philosophically significant inferences—such as GE Moore's notorious 'proof' of the existence of the external world. I suggest that this peculiar epistemic feature might be correlated with the much (...)
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  49. Chris Tucker (2012). The dangers of using safety to explain transmission failure: A reply to Martin Smith. Episteme 9 (4):393-406.
    Many epistemologists hold that the Zebra Deduction (the animals are zebras, so they aren't cleverly disguised mules) fails to transmit knowledge to its conclusion, but there is little agreement concerning why it has this defect. A natural idea is, roughly, that it fails to transmit because it fails to improve the safety of its conclusion. In his , Martin Smith defends a transmission principle which is supposed to underwrite this natural idea. There are two problems with Smith's account. First, Smith's (...)
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  50. Chris Tucker (2010). When Transmission Fails. Philosophical Review 119 (4):497-529.
    The Neo-Moorean Deduction (I have a hand, so I am not a brain-in-a-vat) and the Zebra Deduction (the creature is a zebra, so isn’t a cleverly disguised mule) are notorious. Crispin Wright, Martin Davies, Fred Dretske, and Brian McLaughlin, among others, argue that these deductions are instances of transmission failure. That is, they argue that these deductions cannot transmit justification to their conclusions. I contend, however, that the notoriety of these deductions is undeserved. My strategy is to clarify, attack, defend, (...)
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