Paul Faulkner presents a new theory of testimony - the basis of much of what we know. He addresses the questions of what makes it reasonable to accept a piece of testimony, and what warrants belief formed on that basis. He rejects rival theories and argues that testimonial knowledge and testimonially warranted belief are based on trust.
A key debate in the epistemology of testimony concerns when it is reasonable to acquire belief through accepting what a speaker says. This debate has been largely understood as the debate over how much, or little, assessment and monitoring an audience must engage in. When it is understood in this way the debate simply ignores the relationship speaker and audience can have. Interlocutors rarely adopt the detached approach to communication implied by talk of assessment and monitoring. Audiences trust speakers to (...) be truthful and demonstrate certain reactive attitudes if they are not. Trust and the accompanying willingness to these reactive attitudes can then provide speakers with a reason to be trustworthy. So through ignoring interlocutors' engagement with the communicative process, the existing debate misses the possibility that it is an audience's trusting a speaker that makes it reasonable for the audience to accept what the speaker says. (shrink)
Through communication, we form beliefs about the world, its history, others and ourselves. A vast proportion of these beliefs we count as knowledge. We seem to possess this knowledge only because it has been communicated. If those justifications that depended on communication were outlawed, all that would remain would be body of illsupported prejudice. The recognition of our ineradicable dependence on testimony for much of what we take ourselves to know has suggested to many that an epistemological account of testimony (...) should be essentially similar to accounts of perception and memory. This premise I want to dispute. (shrink)
Trust is central to our social lives. We know by trusting what others tell us. We act on that basis, and on the basis of trust in their promises and implicit commitments. So trust underpins both epistemic and practical cooperation and is key to philosophical debates on the conditions of its possibility. It is difficult to overstate the significance of these issues. On the practical side, discussions of cooperation address what makes society possible—of how it is that life is not (...) a Hobbesian war of all against all. On the epistemic side, discussions of cooperation address what makes the pooling of knowledge possible—and so the edifice that is science. But trust is not merely central to our lives instrumentally; trusting relations are themselves of great value and, in trusting others, we realize distinctive forms of value. What are these forms of value, and how is trust central to our lives? These questions are explored and developed in this volume, which collects fifteen new essays on the philosophy of trust. They develop and extend existing philosophical discussion of trust and will provide a reference point for future work on trust. (shrink)
Most philosophical discussion of trust focuses on the three-place trust predicate: X trusting Y to φ. This article argues that it is the one-place and two-place predicates – X is trusting, and X trusting Y – that are fundamental.
One thing wrong with lying is that it can be manipulative. Understanding why lying can be a form of manipulation involves understanding how our telling someone something can give them a reason to believe it, and understanding this requires seeing both how our telling things can invite trust and how trust can be a reason to believe someone. This paper aims to outline the mechanism by means of which lies can be manipulative and through doing so identify a unique reason (...) for accepting testimony; a reason based on trusting a speaker’s telling. (shrink)
In trusting a speaker we adopt a credulous attitude, and this attitude is basic: it cannot be reduced to the belief that the speaker is trustworthy or reliable. However, like this belief, the attitude of trust provides a reason for accepting what a speaker says. Similarly, this reason can be good or bad; it is likewise epistemically evaluable. This paper aims to present these claims and offer a genealogical justification of them.
Most action can be explained in Humean or teleological terms; that is, in most cases, one can explain why someone acted by reference to that person’s beliefs and desires. However, trusting and being trustworthy are actions that do not permit such explanation. The action of trusting someone to do something is a matter of expecting someone to act for certain reasons, and acting trustworthily is one of acting for these reasons. It is better to say that people act out of (...) trust, rather than for some end. Thus, teleological considerations do not suffice to trust. This is the negative claim of the paper. Its positive proposal is an account of the practical rationality of trust. The key idea is that in trusting one takes on commitments, not merely to act in certain way, but also to premise one’s practical reasoning on a trust-based view of the interaction situation. (shrink)
Moral obligation, Darwall argues, is irreducibly second personal. So too, McMyler argues, is the reason for belief supplied by testimony and which supports trust. In this paper, I follow Darwall in arguing that the testimony is not second personal ?all the way down?. However, I go on to argue, this shows that trust is not fully second personal, which in turn shows that moral obligation is equally not second personal ?all the way down?
Should we tell other people the truth? Should we believe what other people tell us? This paper argues that something like these norms of truth-telling and belief govern our production and receipt of testimony in conversational contexts. It then attempts to articulate these norms and determine their justification. More fully specified these norms prescribe that speakers tell the truth informatively, or be trustworthy, and that audiences presume that speakers do this, or trust. These norms of trust, as norms of conversational (...) cooperation, would then seem to be justified on the basis of the interest that each has in the cooperative outcome. The norms of trust would then be justified as Lewisian conventions. Howver, the joint outcome prescribed by these norms is not a equilibrium point: a speaker always does better to have an audience’s trust and the liberty to tell the truth or not as it suits. In this way, testimony presents a problem of trust. The justification of these norms of trust then starts from the recognition that any society that did not resolve this problem of trust would be stymied as a society. The resolution of this problem then requires securing the motivations characteristic of trusting and being trustworthy, where to have these motivations is to have an ethical outlook defined in terms of internalising these norms of trust. This justification genealogical and it is one of value. (shrink)
Testimony is a source of knowledge. On many occasions, the explanation of one’s knowing that p is that a speaker, S, told one that p. Our testimonial sources—the referents of ‘S’—can be other individuals, and they can be collectives; that is, in addition to learning from individuals, we learn things from committees, commissions, councils, clubs, teams, research groups, departments, administrations, churches, states and other social groups. North Korea might make a declaration about its missile programme, the church about the ordination (...) of women priests, the council about its deficit, the research group about its findings, and so on. We will look at a few examples in detail shortly, but the starting point is that social groups can be a source of testimony, and we can learn things from such collective testimony. The question this paper pursues is, what explains our learning that p from collective testimony to p? (shrink)
David Hume advances a reductionist epistemology of testimony: testimonial beliefs are justified on the basis of beliefs formed from other sources. This reduction, however, has been misunderstood. Testimonial beliefs are not justified in a manner identical to ordinary empirical beliefs; it is true, they are justified by observation of the conjunction between testimony and its truth, it is the nature of the conjunctions that has been misunderstood. The observation of these conjunctions provides us with our knowledge of human nature and (...) it is this knowledge which justifies our testimonial beliefs. Hume gives a naturalistic rather than sceptical account of testimony. (shrink)
Faced with evidence that what a person said is false, we can nevertheless trust them and so believe what they say – choosing to give them the benefit of the doubt. This is particularly notable when the person is a friend, or someone we are close to. Towards such persons, we demonstrate a remarkable epistemic partiality. We can trust, and so believe, our friends even when the balance of the evidence suggests that what they tell us is false. And insofar (...) as belief is possible, it is also possible to acquire testimonial knowledge on those occasions when the friends know what they tell us. This paper seeks to explain these psychological and epistemological possibilities. (shrink)
This paper aims to outline, evaluate, and ultimately reject a virtue epistemic theory of testimony before proposing a virtue ethical theory. Trust and trustworthiness, it is proposed, are ethical virtues; and from these ethical virtues, epistemic consequences follow.
We must allow that knowledge can be transmitted. But to allow this is to allow that an individual can know a proposition despite lacking any evidence for it and reaching belief by an unreliable means. So some explanation is required as to how knowledge rather than belief is transmitted. This paper considers two non-individualistic explanations: one in terms of knowledge existing autonomously, the other in terms of it existing as a property of communities. And it attempts to decide what is (...) at issue between these explanations. (shrink)
As sources of knowledge, perception and testimony are both vulnerable to sceptical arguments. To both arguments a Moorean response is possible: both can be refuted by reference to particular things known by perception and testimony. However, lies and dreams are different possibilities and they are different in a way that undercuts the plausibility of a Moorean response to a scepticism of testimony. The condition placed on testimonial knowledge cannot be trivially satisfied in the way the Moorean would suggest. This has (...) substantial implications for any non-sceptical epistemological theory of testimony. (shrink)
We enjoy first-person authority with respect to a certain class of actions: for these actions, we know what we are doing just because we are doing it. This paper first formulates an epistemological principle that captures this authority in terms of trying to act in a way that one has the capacity to act. It then considers a case of effortful action – running a middle distance race – that threatens this principle. And proposes the solution of changing the metaphysics (...) of action: one can keep hold of the idea that we have first-person authority over what we are doing by adopting a disjunctive account of action. (shrink)
Social epistemology should be truth-centred, argues Goldman. Social epistemology should capture the ‘logic of everyday practices’ and describe socially ‘situated’ reasoning, says Fuller. Starting from Goldman’s vision of epistemology, this paper aims to argue for Fuller’s contention. Social epistemology cannot focus solely on the truth because the truth can be got in lucky ways. The same too could be said for reliability. Adding a second layer of epistemic evaluation helps only insofar as the reasons thus specified are appropriately connected to (...) reliability. These claims are first made in abstract, and then developed with regard to our practice of trusting testimony, where an epistemological investigation into the grounds of reliability must inevitably detail the ‘logic of everyday practices’. (shrink)
We depend upon the community for justified belief in scientific theory. This dependence can suggest that our individual belief in scientific theory is justified because the community believes it to be justified. This idea is at the heart of an anti-realist epistemology according to which there are no facts about justification that transcend a community's judgement thereof. Ultimately, knowledge and justified belief are simply social statuses. When conjoined with the lemma that communities can differ in what they accept as justified, (...) epistemological anti-realism entails epistemological relativism. Further, this lemma can also be used to generate an argument for relativism and, thereby, for anti-realism. So if an epistemologically realist account of our justification for belief in scientific theory is to be given, then it must be possible, first, to defend a realist interpretation of the idea that individual belief can be community-justified and second, to defend it in a way that is compatible with the fact of possible community diversity. This paper tries to meet these challenges. (shrink)
A conversation is more than a series of disconnected remarks because it is conducted against a background presumption of cooperation. But what makes it reasonable to presume that one is engaged in a conversation? What makes it reasonable to presume cooperation? This paper considers Grice’s two ways of answering this question and argues for the one he discarded. It does so by means of considering a certain problem and analysis of trust.
One can have faith in someone, believe in someone and trust someone, and these notions seem closely related. Any account of faith should then address its relation to trust and belief. Like trust, faith can similarly have propositional and relational forms. One can have faith that God is good and faith in God; one can trust that another will do something and trust them to do it. Starting from a comparison between these forms of faith and trust, this paper proposes (...) a philosophical analysis of faith and its relation to trust and belief. (shrink)
In Conspiracies and Lyes I aim to provide an epistemological account of testimony as one of our faculties of knowledge. I compare testimony to perception and memory. Its similarity to both these faculties is recognised. A fundamental difference is stressed: it can be rational to not accept testimony even if testimony is fulfilling its proper epistemic function because it can be rational for a speaker to not express a belief; or, as I say, it can be rational for a speaker (...) to lye. This difference in epistemic function provides the basis for a sceptical argument against testimony. Scepticism is presented as a method rather than a problem: considering how to refute the sceptical argument is taken to be a means of evaluating theories as to how testimonial beliefs are warranted. I consider two strategies for refuting scepticism and, correlatively, two accounts of how testimonial beliefs are warranted. I show these accounts to be neutral across all theories of justification that entertain the project of investigating our faculties of knowledge. A reductionist account explains the warrant supporting our testimonial beliefs in terms of our inductive ground for accepting testimony. An anti-reductionist account explains the warrant supporting our testimonial beliefs in terms of our possessing an entitlement to accept testimony. I show how both positions can be intuitively motivated. In presenting reductionism I appeal to probability theory, empirical psychology and invoke David Hume. In presenting anti-reductionism I invoke John McDowell and Tyler Burge. A refutation of scepticism is provided by a hybrid of reductionism and anti-reductionism. The hybrid is conceived as part social externalism and part individual internalism. In developing this account I provide a means of conceptualising the dynamic that exists between individual knowers and communities of knowledge. (shrink)
According to the Assurance Theory of testimony, in telling an audience something, a speaker offers their assurance that what is told is true, which is something like their guarantee, or promise, of truth. However, speakers also tell lies and say things they do not have the authority to back up. So why does understanding tellings to be a form of assurance explain how tellings can provide a reason for belief? This paper argues that reasons come once it is recognised that (...) tellings are trusted. And the logic by means of which trust gives reason to believe is quite general; it applies equally to belief that is based on evidence rather than assurance. Outlining this logic requires the introduction of the idea of epistemic presumptions, whose truth plays the role of ensuring a connection between believer, justification and truth. (shrink)