Anti-Individualism: Mind and Language, Knowledge and Justification * By SANFORD C. GOLDBERG [Book Review]
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Analysis 69 (3):582-585 (2009)
Reflection on testimony provides novel arguments for anti-individualism. What is anti-individualism? Sanford Goldberg's book defends three main claims under this heading: first, facts about the contents of beliefs do not supervene on individualistic facts about the believers ; second, an individual's epistemic entitlement to accept a piece of testimony depends on facts about her peers ; third, processes by which some humans acquire knowledge from testimony includes activities performed for them by others . Each of these three claims is argued for separately from premises about the ways in which humans, adult and child, succeed in gaining knowledge by testimony. The three arguments provide the structure for Anti-Individualism.Goldberg's argument for the first claim – that the contents of beliefs do not supervene on individualistic facts about the believers – begins from uncontroversial facts about testimony. Gaining knowledge by testimony depends on knowing the meanings of some utterances, and it is possible to know the meaning of a person's utterance while knowing little that would distinguish this person from anyone else . The best explanation of how this is possible involves postulating linguistic norms which entail facts about the linguistic meanings of utterances . Now in some cases of testimony, a hearer acquires a belief whose content is the linguistic meaning of a speaker's utterance, where the linguistic meaning of this utterance is determined by linguistic norms . But linguistic norms might have been different from what they are even while the person's and her audience's non-relational properties remained unaltered . And in such a case, the hearer would have acquired a belief with a different content . Therefore, ‘Psychological facts such as believing that p do not supervene on the individualistic facts regarding the subject’ …
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