About this topic
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. Wright Back to Dretske, or Why You Might as Well Deny Knowledge Closure.Marc Alspector‐Kelly - 2015 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 90 (3):570-611.
    Fred Dretske notoriously claimed that knowledge closure sometimes fails. Crispin Wright agrees that warrant does not transmit in the relevant cases, but only because the agent must already be warranted in believing the conclusion in order to acquire her warrant for the premise. So the agent ends up being warranted in believing, and so knowing, the conclusion in those cases too: closure is preserved. Wright's argument requires that the conclusion's having to be warranted beforehand explains transmission failure. I argue that (...)
  2. Transfer of Warrant, Begging the Question, and Semantic Externalism.Helen Beebee - 2002 - Philosophical Quarterly 51 (204):356-74.
  3. Blind Reasoning.Paul Boghossian - 2003 - 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.
  4. Wright on Transmission Failure.J. Brown - 2004 - Analysis 64 (1):57-67.
  5. The Reductio Argument and Transmission of Warrant.J. Brown - 2003 - In Susana Nuccetelli (ed.), New Essays on Semantic Externalism and Self-Knowledge. MIT Press.
  6. Transmission for Knowledge Not Established.Anthony L. Brueckner - 1985 - 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.
  7. On Testimony and Transmission.J. Adam Carter & Philip J. Nickel - 2014 - 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 (...)
  8. The Transmission of Support: A Bayesian Re-Analysis.Jake Chandler - 2010 - 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.
  9. Extended Rationality: A Hinge Epistemology.Annalisa Coliva - 2015 - Palgrave-Macmillan.
    Extended Rationality: A Hinge Epistemology provides a novel account of the structure of epistemic justification. Its central claim builds upon Wittgenstein's idea in On Certainty that epistemic justifications hinge on some basic assumptions and that epistemic rationality extends to these very hinges. It exploits these ideas to address major problems in epistemology, such as the nature of perceptual justifications, external world skepticism, epistemic relativism, the epistemic status of basic logical laws, of the Principle of the Uniformity of Nature, of our (...)
  10. Moore's Proof, Liberals, and Conservatives : Is There a (Wittgensteinian) Third Way?Annalisa Coliva - 2012 - 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 (...)
  11. A Logical Transmission Principle for Conclusive Reasons.Charles B. Cross - 2015 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (2):353-370.
    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 , conclusive reasons are governed by an informative, non-trivial, logical transmission principle. If r is a conclusive reason for believing p in (...)
  12. Two Purposes of Arguing and Two Epistemic Projects.Martin Davies - 2009 - In Ian Ravenscroft (ed.), Minds, Ethics, and Conditionals: Themes From the Philosophy of Frank Jackson. Oxford University Press. pp. 337.
  13. Epistemic Entitlement, Warrant Transmission and Easy Knowledge.Martin Davies - 2004 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 78 (1):213-245.
  14. Externalism, Self-Knowledge and Transmission of Warrant.Martin Davies - 2003 - In Maria J. Frapolli & E. Romero (eds.), Meaning, Basic Self-Knowledge, and Mind. CSLI Publications.
    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.
  15. Externalism, Architecturalism, and Epistemic Warrant.Martin Davies - 2000 - In C. Wright, B. Smith & C. Macdonald (eds.), Knowing Our Own Minds. Oxford University Press. pp. 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 (...)
  16. Externalism and Armchair Knowledge.Martin Davies - 2000 - In Paul A. Boghossian & Christopher Peacocke (eds.), New Essays on the a Priori. Oxford University Press. pp. 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.
  17. Transmission of Warrant-Failure and the Notion of Epistemic Analyticity.Philip A. Ebert - 2005 - 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 (...)
  18. Radical Interpretation, Understanding, and the Testimonial Transmission of Knowledge.S. C. Goldberg - 2004 - 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 (...)
  19. How Lucky Can You Get?Sanford Goldberg - 2007 - 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 that Pritchard’s distinction between veritic and reflective luck provides a nice taxonomy of testimony cases, that the taxonomic categories that emerge can be used to suggest precisely what epistemic statuses are transmissible through testimony, and that the resulting picture can make clear how testimony can actually be knowledge-generating.
  20. Testimony, Transmission, and Safety.Joachim Horvath - 2008 - 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 (...)
  21. Two Notions of Circularity.Jesper Kallestrup - 2015 - Inquiry : An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 58 (5):486-512.
    Crispin Wright’s epistemic response to McKinsey’s paradox is to argue that introspective knowledge of the first premise fails to transmit across the semantic externalist entailment in the second premise to the conclusion that one has such untoward knowledge of the external world. This paper argues first that Stewart Cohen and Jonathan Vogel’s bootstrapping arguments suffer from a novel kind of epistemic circularity, which triggers failure of transmission but allows for the possibility of basic perceptual knowledge. It is then argued that (...)
  22. Reliabilist Justification: Basic, Easy, and Brute. [REVIEW]Jesper Kallestrup - 2009 - 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 (...)
  23. Epistemic Authority, Testimony and the Transmission of Knowledge†.Arnon Keren - 2007 - 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 (...)
  24. Dragging and Confirming.M. Kotzen - 2012 - 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 (...)
  25. Learning From Words.Jennifer Lackey - 2006 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 73 (1):77–101.
  26. Testimonial Knowledge and Transmission.Jennifer Lackey - 1999 - 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 (...)
  27. Single Premise Deduction and Risk.Maria Lasonen-Aarnio - 2008 - 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 (...)
  28. Boghossian's Template and Transmission Failure.Alessia Marabini & Luca Moretti - manuscript
    Within his overarching program aiming to defend an epistemic conception of analyticity, Boghossian (1996 and 1997) has offered a clear-cut explanation of how we can acquire a priori knowledge of logical truths and logical rules through implicit definition. The explanation is based on a special template or general form of argument. Ebert (2005) has argued that an enhanced version of this template is flawed because a segment of it is unable to transmit warrant from its premises to the conclusion. This (...)
  29. Ebert on Boghossian’s Template and Transmission Failure.Alessia Marabini & Luca Moretti - manuscript
    Boghossian (1996) has put forward an interesting explanation of how we can acquire logical knowledge via implicit definitions that makes use of a special template. Ebert (2005) has argued that the template is unserviceable, as it doesn't transmit warrant. In this paper, we defend the template. We first suggest that Jenkins (2008)’s response to Ebert fails because it focuses on doxastic rather than propositional warrant. We then reject Ebert’s objection by showing that it depends on an implausible and incoherent assumption.
  30. On Epistemic Alchemy.Aidan McGlynn - 2014 - In Dylan Dodd Elia Zardini (ed.), Scepticism and Perceptual Justification. Oxford University Press. pp. 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 (...)
  31. What's Wrong with Epistemic Circularity.Timothy And Lydia Mcgrew - 2000 - Dialogue 39 (02):219-.
  32. Transmission of Warrant and Closure of Apriority.Michael McKinsey - 2003 - In Susana Nuccetelli (ed.), New Essays on Semantic Externalism and Self-Knowledge. MIT Press. pp. 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.<sup>1</sup> 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 (...)
  33. McKinsey's Challenge, Warrant Transmission, and Skepticism.Brian P. McLaughlin - 2003 - In Susana Nuccetelli (ed.), New Essays on Semantic Externalism and Self-Knowledge. MIT Press.
  34. The Dogmatist, Moore's Proof and Transmission Failure.Luca Moretti - 2014 - 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.
  35. Wright, Okasha and Chandler on Transmission Failure.Luca Moretti - 2012 - 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 (...)
  36. Transmission of Justification and Warrant.Luca Moretti & Tommaso Piazza - 2013 - 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 (...)
  37. When Warrant Transmits and When It Doesn't: Towards a General Framework.Luca Moretti & Tommaso Piazza - 2013 - 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 (...)
  38. Skepticism and Epistemic Closure: Two Bayesian Accounts.Luca Moretti & Tomoji Shogenji - 2017 - International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 7 (1):1-25.
    This paper considers two novel Bayesian responses to a well-known skeptical paradox. The paradox consists of three intuitions: first, given appropriate sense experience, we have justification for accepting the relevant proposition about the external world; second, we have justification for expanding the body of accepted propositions through known entailment; third, we do not have justification for accepting that we are not disembodied souls in an immaterial world deceived by an evil demon. The first response we consider rejects the third intuition (...)
  39. Fixing the Transmission: The New Mooreans.Ram Neta - 2007 - In Susana Nuccetelli & Gary Seay (eds.), Themes From G. E. Moore: New Essays in Epistemology and Ethics. Clarendon Press.
  40. New Essays on Semantic Externalism and Self-Knowledge.Susana Nuccetelli (ed.) - 2003 - MIT Press.
  41. Wright on the Transmission of Support: A Bayesian Analysis.Samir Okasha - 2004 - Analysis 64 (2):139–146.
  42. Ampliative Transmission and Deontological Internalism.Luis R. G. Oliveira - forthcoming - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly:n/a-n/a.
    Deontological internalism is the family of views where justification is a positive deontological appraisal of someone's epistemic agency: S is justified, that is, when S is blameless, praiseworthy, or responsible in believing that p. Brian Weatherson discusses very briefly how a plausible principle of ampliative transmission reveals a worry for versions of deontological internalism formulated in terms of epistemic blame. Weatherson denies, however, that similar principles reveal similar worries for other versions. I disagree. In this article, I argue that plausible (...)
  43. Testimony and Assertion.David Owens - 2005 - 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.
  44. A Puzzle About Warrant.Duncan Pritchard - 2001 - 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 (...)
  45. When Warrant Transmits.James Pryor - 2012 - 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.
  46. What's Wrong with Moore's Argument?James Pryor - 2004 - 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 (...)
  47. The Bayesian Explanation of Transmission Failure.Geoff Pynn - 2013 - 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 (...)
  48. Inferential Transitions.Jake Quilty-Dunn & Eric Mandelbaum - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-16.
    This paper provides a naturalistic account of inference. We posit that the core of inference is constituted by bare inferential transitions, transitions between discursive mental representations guided by rules built into the architecture of cognitive systems. In further developing the concept of BITs, we provide an account of what Boghossian [2014] calls ‘taking’—that is, the appreciation of the rule that guides an inferential transition. We argue that BITs are sufficient for implicit taking, and then, to analyse explicit taking, we posit (...)
  49. Confirmation, Transitivity, and Moore: The Screening-Off Approach.William Roche & Tomoji Shogenji - 2013 - 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 (...)
  50. Warrant-Transmission, Defeaters and Disquotation.R. M. Sainsbury - 2000 - Noûs 34 (s1):191 - 200.
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