Social Epistemology 33 (6):477-490 (2019)

Federica Isabella Malfatti
University of Innsbruck
Can we gain understanding from testifiers who themselves fail to understand? At first glance, this looks counterintuitive. How could a hearer who has no understanding or very poor understanding of a certain subject matter non-accidentally extract items of information relevant to understanding from a speaker’s testimony if the speaker does not understand what she is talking about? This paper shows that, when there are theories or representational devices working as mediators, speakers can intentionally generate understanding in their hearers by engaging in relevant speech acts without understanding the topic of these speech acts themselves. More specifically, I argue that testifiers can intentionally elicit understanding of empirical phenomena in their hearers even if they themselves lack such understanding – granted that they properly understood the epistemic mediators involved.
Keywords understanding  testimony  knowledge  intelligibility
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DOI 10.1080/02691728.2019.1628319
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References found in this work BETA

Understanding Why.Alison Hills - 2015 - Noûs 49 (2):661-688.
No Understanding Without Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):510-515.
Experts: Which Ones Should You Trust?Alvin I. Goldman - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63 (1):85-110.
Studies in the Way of Words.D. E. Over - 1990 - Philosophical Quarterly 40 (160):393-395.

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Citations of this work BETA

On Understanding and Testimony.Federica Isabella Malfatti - 2021 - Erkenntnis 86 (6):1345-1365.
Understanding and Testimony.Allan Hazlett - forthcoming - In Jennifer Lackey & Aidan McGlynn (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Social Epistemology. Oxford.

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