Why believe what people say?

Synthese 94 (3):429 - 451 (1993)
The basic alternatives seem to be either a Humean reductionist view that any particular assertion needs backing with inductive evidence for its reliability before it can retionally be believed, or a Reidian criterial view that testimony is intrinscially, though defeasibly, credible, in the absence of evidence against its reliability.Some recent arguments from the constraints on interpreting any linguistic performances as assertions with propositional content have some force against the reductionist view. We thus have reason to accept the criterial view, at least as applied to eyewitness reports. But these considerations do not establish that any rational enquirer must have the concept of other minds or testimony. The logical possibility of the lone enquirer, who uses symbols and thereby expresses some knowledge of his world, remains open — but it is a question we have no need to pronounce upon.
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DOI 10.1007/BF01064488
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Jennifer Lackey (1999). Testimonial Knowledge and Transmission. Philosophical Quarterly 50 (197):471-490.
Duncan Pritchard (2004). The Epistemology of Testimony. Philosophical Issues 14 (1):326–348.
By Matthew Weiner (2003). Accepting Testimony. Philosophical Quarterly 53 (211):256–264.

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