Spontaneous Generations 1 (1):58-66 (2007)

Ben Almassi
Governors State University
Throughout his work on the rationality of epistemic dependence, John Hardwig makes the striking observation that he believes many things for which he possesses no evidence (1985, 335; 1991, 693; 1994, 83). While he could imagine collecting for himself the relevant evidence for some of his beliefs, the vastness of the world and constraints of time and individual intellect thwart his ability to gather for himself the evidence for all his beliefs. So for many things he believes what others tell him, as we all do. Epistemic dependence is the responsible choice, he argues, because he can be reasonably sure that those on whom he depends know more about the subject than he does. Epistemic dependence on experts is a smarter bet than epistemic autonomy: after all, Hardwig reasons, “if I were to pursue epistemic autonomy across the board, I would succeed in holding relatively uninformed, unreliable, crude, untested, and therefore irrational beliefs” (1985, 340) [...] In this paper I argue against what I call Hardwig’s no-evidence thesis: that knowledge and belief based on testimony are knowledge and belief for which the knower possesses no evidence. Against the no-evidence thesis, I propose we recognize that layperson B’s good reason to believe that expert A has good reason to believe proposition p constitutes evidence for B for p. I argue that the reasons Hardwig gives for the no-evidence thesis are inconclusive at best; at worst the no-evidence thesis coupled with his recognition of expert interdependence exposes him to recent criticisms by Stella Gaon and Stephen Norris. By rejecting the no-evidence thesis, we can recognize with Hardwig the importance of expert epistemic interdependence while avoiding the paradoxical implications of his position.
Keywords evidence  expertise  epistemic dependence
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.4245/sponge.v1i1.2972
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 53,645
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Experts: Which Ones Should You Trust?Alvin I. Goldman - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63 (1):85-110.
Epistemic Dependence.John Hardwig - 1985 - Journal of Philosophy 82 (7):335-349.
The Role of Trust in Knowledge.John Hardwig - 1991 - Journal of Philosophy 88 (12):693-708.
Experts: Which Ones Should You Trust?Alvin Goldman - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63 (1):85-110.

View all 7 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Epistemic Duties and Failure to Understand One’s Evidence.Scott Stapleford - 2012 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 16 (1):147-177.
No Evidence is False.Clayton Littlejohn - 2013 - Acta Analytica 28 (2):145-159.
Higher Order Evidence.David Christensen - 2010 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81 (1):185-215.
On Justifying and Being Justified.Adam Leite - 2004 - Philosophical Issues 14 (1):219–253.
What Evidence Do You Have?Ram Neta - 2008 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (1):89-119.
Epistemic Dependence.John Hardwig - 1985 - Journal of Philosophy 82 (7):335-349.


Added to PP index

Total views
135 ( #67,953 of 2,349,085 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
5 ( #148,259 of 2,349,085 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes