What is Wrong With Moral Testimony?

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (3):611-634 (2007)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Is it legitimate to acquire one’s moral beliefs on the testimony of others? The pessimist about moral testimony says not. But what is the source of the difficulty? Here pessimists have a choice. On the Unavailability view, moral testimony never makes knowledge available to the recipient. On Unusability accounts, although moral testimony can make knowledge available, some further norm renders it illegitimate to make use of the knowledge thus offered. I suggest that Unusability accounts provide the strongest form of pessimist view. I consider and reject five Unavailability accounts. I then argue that any such view will fail. But what is the norm rendering moral testimonial knowledge unusable? I suggest it lies in the requirement that we grasp for ourselves the moral reasons behind a moral view. This demand is one testimony cannot meet, and that claim holds whatever account we offer of the epistemology of testimony. However, while appeal to this requirement forms the most plausible pessimist view, it is another question whether pessimism is correct.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 89,378

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Learning from words.Jennifer Lackey - 2006 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 73 (1):77–101.
Kant on testimony.Axel Gelfert - 2006 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 14 (4):627 – 652.
Testimony as a Social Foundation of Knowledge.Robert Audi - 2011 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87 (3):507-531.
Knowledge on Trust.Paul Faulkner - 2011 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Testimony, knowledge, and epistemic goals.Steven L. Reynolds - 2002 - Philosophical Studies 110 (2):139 - 161.
The nature of testimony.Jennifer Lackey - 2006 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 87 (2):177–197.
Moral testimony and its authority.Philip Nickel - 2001 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 4 (3):253-266.

Analytics

Added to PP
2009-01-28

Downloads
301 (#58,824)

6 months
33 (#89,852)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Robert Hopkins
New York University

Citations of this work

In defense of moral testimony.Paulina Sliwa - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 158 (2):175-195.
Moral Worth and Moral Knowledge.Paulina Sliwa - 2015 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (2):393-418.
Intuitive Expertise in Moral Judgments.Joachim Horvath & Alex Wiegmann - 2022 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 100 (2):342-359.

View all 105 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

Knowledge by hearsay.John McDowell - 1993 - In A. Chakrabarti & B. K. Matilal (eds.), Knowing From Words. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 195--224.
Second-Hand Moral Knowledge.Karen Jones - 1999 - Journal of Philosophy 96 (2):55.

Add more references