David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1 (4):531-549 (2010)
Philosophers agree that an important part of our knowledge is acquired via testimony. One of the main objectives of social epistemology is therefore to specify the conditions under which a hearer is justified in accepting a proposition stated by a source. Non-reductionists, who think that testimony could be considered as an a priori source of knowledge, as well as reductionists, who think that another type of justification has to be added to testimony, share a common conception about children development. Non-reductionists believe that infants and children are fundamentally gullible and their gullibility could be seen as an example for justifying testimony, while reductionists believe that this gullibility is merely an exception that should be taken into account. The objective of this paper is to review contemporary literature in developmental psychology providing empirical grounds likely to clarify this philosophical debate. What emerges from current research is a more elaborated vision of children’s attitude toward testimony. Even at a very young age, children do not blindly swallow information coming from testimony; doubtful or contradictory information is automatically screened by their cognitive system. Even if they are unable to give positive reasons for the acceptance of a given testimony, young children are not gullible. Such empirical findings tend to call into question the radical opposition between reductionism and non-reductionism
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Citations of this work BETA
Dan Sperber, Fabrice Clément, Christophe Heintz, Olivier Mascaro, Hugo Mercier, Gloria Origgi & Deirdre Wilson (2010). Epistemic Vigilance. Mind and Language 25 (4):359-393.
Dan Sperber (2011). Why Do Humans Reason? Arguments for an Argumentative Theory. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (2):57.
Rolf Reber & Christian Unkelbach (2010). The Epistemic Status of Processing Fluency as Source for Judgments of Truth. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1 (4):563-581.
Kourken Michaelian (2013). The Evolution of Testimony: Receiver Vigilance, Speaker Honesty, and the Reliability of Communication. Episteme 10 (1):37-59.
Fabrice Clément, Stéphane Bernard, Didier Grandjean & David Sander (2013). Emotional Expression and Vocabulary Learning in Adults and Children. Cognition and Emotion 27 (3):539-548.
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