Responsibility for Testimonial Belief

Erkenntnis 76 (3):337-352 (2012)
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According to so-called “credit views of knowledge,” knowledge is an achievement of an epistemic agent, something for which an agent is creditable or responsible. One influential criticism of the credit view of knowledge holds that the credit view has difficulty making sense of knowledge acquired from testimony. As Jennifer Lackey has argued, in many ordinary cases of the acquisition of testimonial knowledge, if anyone deserves credit for the truth of the audience’s belief it is the testimonial speaker rather than the audience, and so it isn’t clear that testimonial knowers are appropriately creditable for the truth of their beliefs. I argue that the credit view of knowledge can be saved from Lackey’s objection by focusing on the way in which testimonial knowledge is the result of an essentially social epistemic ability. While there is indeed a sense in which a testimonial knower is only partially epistemically responsible for her testimonial belief, this is consistent with the truth of her belief being creditable to her in another sense. The truth of her belief is most saliently explained by, and hence is fully creditable to, an essentially social epistemic ability, an ability that is only partially seated in the knowing subject



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Benjamin McMyler
University of Minnesota

Citations of this work

Telling and the reasons of testimony.Sanford C. Goldberg - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 102 (3):708-714.
Entkräftung und Widerruf: Fügsame Überzeugungen im Zeitverlauf.Benjamin McMyler - 2019 - Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 67 (6):992-1007.

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Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man.Thomas Reid - 1785 - University Park, Pa.: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Derek R. Brookes & Knud Haakonssen.
Making it Explicit.Isaac Levi & Robert B. Brandom - 1996 - Journal of Philosophy 93 (3):145.

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