Noûs 51 (1):49–73 (2017)

Allan Hazlett
Washington University in St. Louis
there seems to be some kind of asymmetry, at least in some cases, between moral testimony and non-moral testimony, between aesthetic testimony and non-aesthetic testimony, and between religious testimony and non-religious testimony. In these domains, at least in some cases, we object to deference, and for this reason expect people to form their beliefs on non-testimonial grounds, in a way that we do not object to deference in paradigm cases of testimonial knowledge. Our philosophical puzzle is therefore: what explains these (apparent) asymmetries (or are they merely apparent)? My aim here is to criticize three accounts of these testimonial asymmetries and to suggest an alternative strategy for solving our puzzle. I’ll consider the idea that testimony cannot be a source of understanding (§2), the idea that testimony cannot be a source of acquaintance (§3), and the idea that testimonial belief is not conducive to moral virtue (§4). These accounts all explain the badness of testimonial belief, in the relevant cases, by appeal to its consequences for the believer—respectively, a lack of understanding, acquaintance, or moral virtue. I’ll conclude by suggesting a way forward (§5): we should try to understand the badness of testimonial belief, in the relevant cases, as deriving from its consequences for the believer’s society.
Keywords testimony  moral testimony  aesthetic testimony  understanding
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DOI 10.1111/nous.12098
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References found in this work BETA

On Virtue Ethics.Rosalind Hursthouse - 1999 - Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

A Defense of the Very Idea of Moral Deference Pessimism.Max Lewis - 2020 - Philosophical Studies (8):2323-2340.
The Social Value of Non-Deferential Belief.Allan Hazlett - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (1):131-151.
Aesthetic Testimony and the Test of Time.Jon Robson - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 96 (3):729-748.
A Guide to Thought Experiments in Epistemology.Wesley Buckwalter - forthcoming - In Ernest Sosa, Matthias Steup, John Turri & Blake Roeber (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Epistemology, 3rd edition. Wiley-Blackwell.
Moral Deference, Moral Assertion, and Pragmatics.Max Lewis - 2020 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 23 (1):5-22.

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