Trust and contextualism

Acta Analytica 22 (2):125-138 (2007)
Abstract
The objective of this paper is to apply the general idea of contextualism, as a theory of knowledge attribution, to the very specific case of testimony and trust characterized as being the procedure of the attribution of knowledge (and sincerity) to the informant. In the first part, I argue in favor of evidentialism, a viewpoint that takes epistemically responsible trust as a matter of evidence. In the second part, I consider the question of how strong an evidential basis has to be for epistemically responsible trust. I have briefly registered two main tendencies in contemporary debates regarding trust and testimony: (i) the non-unitary character of our trust; (ii) and the requirement for a refinement of evidential standards. In short, I argue in favor of the stance that any ‘undiscriminatory generalization’ (both Redian or anti-reductivist and Humean or reductivist) concerning epistemically responsible trust is a kind of inappropriate theoretical idealization, and that a certain theoretical reconciliation has to be offered. Finally, in the third part, I propose trust-contextualism as the viewpoint that optimally harmonizes both our intuitive and theoretical requirements about epistemically responsible trust.
Keywords Trust  Testimony  Evidentialism  Contextualism  Epistemic responsibility
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