David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophical Studies 164 (1):205-217 (2013)
Can one gain testimonial knowledge from unsafe testimony? It might seem not, on the grounds that if a piece of testimony is unsafe, then any belief based on it in such a way as to make the belief genuinely testimonial is bound itself to be unsafe: the lack of safety must transmit from the testimony to the testimonial belief. If in addition we accept that knowledge requires safety, the result seems to be that one cannot gain testimonial knowledge from unsafe testimony. In a pair of recent papers, however, Sanford Goldberg has challenged this apparently plausible line of thought. Goldberg presents two examples intended to show that a testimonial belief can be safe, even if the testimony on which it is based is unsafe: the lack of safety need not transmit from the testimony to the testimonial belief. In this paper, I question whether Goldberg’s examples really do show that one can gain safe testimonial belief from unsafe testimony. The problem, I explain, is that both examples appear (for different reasons) to be open to objection. Nevertheless, I argue that although Goldberg’s examples do not establish his conclusion, the conclusion itself is true: one can gain safe testimonial belief from unsafe testimony. I base my argument on an example which differs in structure from Goldberg’s examples, and I argue that due to this difference, my example avoids the problems which Goldberg’s examples face
|Keywords||Testimony Safety Knowledge|
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Robert Nozick (1981). Philosophical Explanations. Harvard University Press.
Duncan Pritchard (2005). Epistemic Luck. Clarendon Press.
Timothy Williamson (2000). Knowledge and its Limits. Oxford University Press.
Jennifer Lackey (2008). Learning From Words: Testimony as a Source of Knowledge. Oxford University Press.
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Citations of this work BETA
Stephen Wright (2015). In Defence of Transmission. Episteme 12 (1):13-28.
Stephen Wright (2016). The Transmission of Knowledge and Justification. Synthese 193 (1):293-311.
Stephen Wright (2016). Circular Testimony. Philosophical Studies 173 (8):2029-2048.
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