Our trust in the word of others is often dismissed as unworthy, because the illusory ideal of "autonomous knowledge" has prevailed in the debate about the nature of knowledge. Yet we are profoundly dependent on others for a vast amount of what any of us claim to know. Coady explores the nature of testimony in order to show how it might be justified as a source of knowledge, and uses the insights that he has developed to challenge certain widespread (...) assumptions in the areas of history, law, mathematics, and psychology. (shrink)
It is commonly claimed that reliance upon moral testimony is problematic in a way not common to reliance upon non-moral testimony. This chapter provides a new explanation of what the problem consists in—one that enjoys advantages over the most widely accepted explanation in the extant literature. The main theses of the chapter are as follows: that many forms of normative deference beyond the moral are problematic, that there is a common explanation of the problem with all of these (...) forms of deference—an explanation that is based on the connection between the relevant judgments and desire-like attitudes, and that this explanation is compatible with moral realism. (shrink)
Why is there a felt asymmetry between cases in which agents defer to testifiers for certain moral beliefs, and cases in which agents defer on many other matters? One explanation influential in the literature is that having understanding of a proposition is both in tension with acquiring belief in the proposition by deferring to another's testimony and distinctively important when it comes to moral propositions, as compared with what we might think of as many ‘garden variety’ facts. My project (...) in this paper is to offer a new and more defensible version of this explanation. This will involve re-conceiving understanding as a richer state than it is commonly thought to be, requiring affective and motivational engagement with reasons as well as cognitive facility. I also offer a new explanation of the tension between understanding and deference to testimony. (shrink)
What, if anything, is wrong with acquiring moral beliefs on the basis of testimony? Most philosophers think that there is something wrong with it, and most point to a special problem that moral testimony is supposed to create for moral agency. Being a good moral agent involves more than bringing about the right outcomes. It also involves acting with "moral understanding" and one cannot have moral understanding of what one is doing via moral testimony. And so, adherents (...) to this view claim, relying on moral testimony is problematic. Importantly, the problem that afflicts moral testimony, according to this view, is not a problem for testimonial knowledge in general. Indeed, critics of moral testimony acknowledge that a vast amount of our knowledge comes, completely unproblematically, from testimony. Call this the Asymmetry Thesis. We argue that while the diagnosis of what is wrong with moral testimony (when there is something wrong with it) in terms of moral understanding is correct, the lesson many of its adherents draw from it, namely that there is a principled difference between moral an non-moral testimony which renders the first, but not the second, problematic, is not. In other words, we argue that the Asymmetry Thesis is false. (shrink)
Much of what we learn from talking and listening does not qualify as testimonial knowledge: we can learn a great deal from other people without simply accepting what they say as being true. In this article, I examine the ways in which we acquire skills or knowledge how from our interactions with other people, and I discuss whether there is a useful notion of testimonial knowledge how.Keywords: Knowledge how; Practical knowledge; Tacit knowledge; Testimony; Skills; Assertion.
The epistemology of testimony has experienced a growth in interest over the last twenty-five years that has been matched by few, if any, other areas of philosophy. _Testimony: A Philosophical Introduction _provides an epistemology of testimony that surveys this rapidly growing research area while incorporating a discussion of relevant empirical work from social and developmental psychology, as well as from the interdisciplinary study of knowledge-creation in groups. The past decade has seen a number of scholarly monographs on the (...) epistemology of testimony, but there is a dearth of books that survey the current field. This book fills that gap, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of all major competing theories. All chapters conclude with Suggestions for Further Reading and Discussion Questions. (shrink)
We often talk about knowledge being transmitted via testimony. This suggests a picture of testimony with striking similarities to memory. For instance, it is often assumed that neither is a generative source of knowledge: while the former transmits knowledge from one speaker to another, the latter preserves beliefs from one time to another. These considerations give rise to a stronger and a weaker thesis regarding the transmission of testimonial knowledge. The stronger thesis is that each speaker in a (...) chain of testimonial transmission must know that p in order to pass this knowledge to a hearer. The weaker thesis is that at least the first speaker must know that p in order for any hearer in the chain to come to know that p via testimony. I argue that both theses are false, and hence testimony, unlike memory, can be a generative source of knowledge. (shrink)
There is an emerging skepticism about the existence of testimonial knowledge-how :387–404, 2010; Poston in Noûs 50:865–878, 2016; Carter and Pritchard in Philos Phenomenol Res 91:181–199, 2015a). This is unsurprising since a number of influential approaches to knowledge-how struggle to accommodate testimonial knowledge-how. Nonetheless, this scepticism is misguided. This paper establishes that there are cases of easy testimonial knowledge-how. It is structured as follows: first, a case is presented in which an agent acquires knowledge-how simply by accepting a speaker’s (...) class='Hi'>testimony. Second, it is argued that this knowledge-how is genuinely testimonial. Next, Poston’s arguments against easy testimonial knowledge-how are considered and rejected. The implications of the argument differ for intellectualists and anti-intellectualists about knowledge-how. The intellectualist must reject widespread assumptions about the communicative preconditions for the acquisition of testimonial knowledge. The anti-intellectualist must find a way of accommodating the dependence of knowledge-how on speaker reliability. It is not clear how this can be done. (shrink)
Is there anything peculiarly bad about accepting moral testimony? According to pessimists, trusting moral testimony is an inadequate substitute for working out your moral views on your own. Enlightenment requires thinking for oneself, at least where morality is concerned. Optimists, by contrast, aim to show that trusting moral testimony isn’t bad largely by arguing that it’s no worse than trusting testimony generally. Essentially, they play defense. However, this chapter goes on the offensive. It explores two reasons (...) for thinking that trusting another person’s moral testimony is especially good. The first is an extended application of some of the lessons from recent discussions about epistemic injustice. The second, borrowing some cryptic epistemological thoughts from the young Marx, is that trusting another’s moral testimony is necessary for perfecting ourselves. It concludes that it can be better to accept moral testimony than to arrive at the same moral view on your own. (shrink)
A person sometimes forms moral beliefs by relying on another person''s moral testimony. In this paper I advance a cognitivist normative account of this phenomenon. I argue that for a person''s actions to be morally good, they must be based on a recognition of the moral reasons bearing on action. Morality requires people to act from an understanding of moral claims, and consequently to have an understanding of moral claims relevant to action. A person sometimes fails to meet this (...) requirement when she relies on another person''s moral testimony, and so there are moral limits on such reliance. (shrink)
Miranda Fricker has influentially discussed testimonial injustice: the injustice done to a speaker S by a hearer H when H gives S less-than-merited credibility. Here, I explore the prospects for a novel form of testimonial injustice, where H affords S due credibility, that is, the amount of credibility S deserves. I present two kinds of cases intended to illustrate this category, and argue that there is presumptive reason to think that testimonial injustice with due credibility exists. I show that if (...) it is denied that ultimately these cases exemplify testimonial injustice without credibility deficit, then either they must be taken to exemplify a novel kind of epistemic, non-testimonial injustice, or they bring to light a significant exegetical result. (shrink)
Coady’s book is probably the single most comprehensive treatment of philosophical questions relating to testimony and as such must be read by anyone interested in the topic. His epistemological conclusions concerning testimony challenge much of the philosophical tradition.
It is sometimes claimed that faith is a virtue. To what extent faith is a virtue depends on what faith is. One construal of faith, which has been popular in both recent and historical work on faith, is that faith is a matter of taking oneself to have been spoken to by God and of trusting this purported divine testimony. In this paper, I argue that when faith is understood in this way, for faith to be virtuous then it (...) must be accompanied by intellectual humility. I defend this view by showing how someone ought to respond to purported divine testimony if her faith is to be intellectually humble, and how, if it fails in this respect, it will instead be accompanied by the vices of either servility or arrogance. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
This paper considers a special case of belief updating—when an agent learns testimonial data, or in other words, the beliefs of others on some issue. The interest in this case is twofold: (1) the linear averaging method for updating on testimony is somewhat popular in epistemology circles, and it is important to assess its normative acceptability, and (2) this facilitates a more general investigation of what it means/requires for an updating method to have a suitable Bayesian representation (taken here (...) as the normative standard). The paper initially defends linear averaging against Bayesian-compatibility concerns raised by Bradley (Soc Choice Welf 29:609-632, 2007), as well as problems associated with multiple testimony updates. The resolution of these issues, however, requires an extremely nuanced interpretation of the parameters of the linear averaging model—the so-called weights of respect. We go on to propose a role that the parameters of any 'shortcut' updating function should play, by way of minimal interpretation of these parameters. The class of updating functions that is consistent with this role, however, excludes linear averaging, at least in its standard form. (shrink)
In the epistemology of testimony it is often assumed that audiences are able to reliably recover asserted contents. In the philosophy of language this claim is contentious. This paper outlines one problem concerning the recovery of asserted contents, and argues that it prevents audiences from gaining testimonial knowledge in a range of cases. The recovery problem, in essence, is simply that due to the collective epistemic limitations of the speaker and audience speakers will, in certain cases, be insensitive to (...) the ways in which they may be misinterpreted. As a result audiences’ beliefs will often fail the safety and sensitivity conditions on knowledge. Once the problem has been outlined and distinguished from several related problems in the philosophy of language and the epistemology of testimony, a series of responses are considered. The first response holds that audiences possess defeaters in recovery problem cases, and thus wouldn’t form beliefs. The second response holds that the beliefs audiences form are very coarse grained, meaning they are not very vulnerable to failures of safety and sensitivity. The final response holds that the objects of speaker meaning are not propositional. All three responses are found to be unsatisfactory. (shrink)
I outline what I call the ‘deniability problem’, explain why it is problematic, and identify the range of utterances to which it applies (using religious discourse as an example). The problem is as follows: To assign content to many utterances audiences must rely on their contextual knowledge. This generates a lot of scope for error. Thus, speakers are able to make assertions and deny responsibility for the proposition asserted, claiming that the audience made a mistake. I outline the problem (a (...) limited version of which Fricker 2012 discusses), before explaining why it is problematic. Firstly it blocks testimonial knowledge according to assurance views. Secondly it prevents epistemic buck passing (the importance of which is emphasized by Goldberg 2006 and McMyler 2013). Finally, it removes a key disincentive to dishonesty. The recent literature on context sensitivity (particularly Cappelen and Lepore 2004) seems to entail that the problem applies to a very wide range of utterances. I consider a series of responses which fail to provide a solution, but which help us narrow down the scope of the problem. (shrink)
In defense of moral testimony Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-21 DOI 10.1007/s11098-012-9887-6 Authors Paulina Sliwa, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
We gain information from collective, often institutional bodies all the time—from the publications of committees, news teams, or research groups, from web sites such as Wikipedia, and so on—but do these bodies ever function as genuine group testifiers as opposed to mere group sources of information? In putting the question this way I invoke a distinction made, if briefly, by Edward Craig, which I believe to be of deep significance in thinking about the distinctiveness of the speech act of (...) class='Hi'>testimony. The distinction is that between somebody’s functioning as a ‘good informant’ and their functioning merely as a ‘source of information’. The difference between these has, as he remarks, a crucial ethical aspect: What I have in mind is the special flavour of situations in which human beings treat each other as subjects with a common purpose, rather than as objects from which services, in this case true belief, can be extracted. In this paper I shall try to bring out the distinctive nature of the role of good informant in a way that helps to clarify what is at stake in asking whether there can be group testimony in the sense of genuinely collective testimony—that is to say, where the group testifier is a collective and not merely a sum of individuals testifying in one or another form of aggregated chorus. (shrink)
This article discusses the following question: what epistemic relation must audiences bear to the content of assertions in order to gain testimonial knowledge? There is a brief discussion of why this issue is of importance, followed by two counterexamples to the most intuitive answer: that in order for an audience to gain testimonial knowledge that p they must know that the speaker has asserted p. It is then suggested that the argument generalises and can be made to work on different (...) sets of assumptions about the conditions for knowledge, and the conditions under which a proposition is asserted. (shrink)
It is frequently claimed that we can learn very little, if anything, about the aesthetic character of an artwork on the basis of testimony. Such disparaging assessments of the epistemic value of aesthetic testimony contrast markedly with our acceptance of testimony as an important source of knowledge in many other areas. There have, however, been a number of challenges to this orthodoxy of late; from those who seek to deny that such a contrast exists as well as (...) attempts by those who accept the distinction to provide an explanation and defence of the contrast. In Section I, I outline a little of the nature and history of the debate over aesthetic testimony. Section II, focuses on the opposing positions on aesthetic testimony, optimism and pessimism, and takes steps to clarify what exactly is at issue between them. In Section III, I survey considerations which have been adduced in favour of pessimism ranging from brute appeal to intuition to complex argumentation before turning in Section IV, to look at motivations for optimism. Finally, in Section V, I consider some alternative views which claim that, for a variety of reasons, it is a mistake to construe the debate over aesthetic testimony as concerned with the epistemic standing of aesthetic beliefs formed on the basis of testimony. (shrink)
The thesis that aesthetic testimony cannot provide aesthetic justification or knowledge is widely accepted--even by realists about aesthetic properties and values. This Kantian position is mistaken. Some testimony about beauty and artistic value can provide a degree of aesthetic justification and, perhaps, even knowledge. That is, there are cases in which one can be justified in making an aesthetic judgment purely on the basis of someone else's testimony. But widespread aesthetic unreliability creates a problem for much aesthetic (...)testimony. Hence, most testimony about art does not have much epistemic value. The situation is somewhat different with respect to aesthetic testimony about nature, proofs, and theories. (shrink)
Testimony is an invaluable source of knowledge. We rely on the reports of those around us for everything from the ingredients in our food and medicine to the identity of our family members. Recent years have seen an explosion of interest in the epistemology of testimony. Despite the multitude of views offered, a single thesis is nearly universally accepted: testimonial knowledge is acquired through the process of transmission from speaker to hearer. In this book, Jennifer Lackey shows that (...) this thesis is false and, hence, that the literature on testimony has been shaped at its core by a view that is fundamentally misguided. She then defends a detailed alternative to this conception of testimony: whereas the views currently dominant focus on the epistemic status of what speakers believe, Lackey advances a theory that instead centers on what speakers say. The upshot is that, strictly speaking, we do not learn from one another's beliefs - we learn from one another's words. Once this shift in focus is in place, Lackey goes on to argue that, though positive reasons are necessary for testimonial knowledge, testimony itself is an irreducible epistemic source. This leads to the development of a theory that gives proper credence to testimony's epistemologically dual nature: both the speaker and the hearer must make a positive epistemic contribution to testimonial knowledge. The resulting view not only reveals that testimony has the capacity to generate knowledge, but it also gives appropriate weight to our nature as both socially indebted and individually rational creatures. The approach found in this book will, then, represent a radical departure from the views currently dominating the epistemology of testimony, and thus is intended to reshape our understanding of the deep and ubiquitous reliance we have on the testimony of those around us. (shrink)
I argue, first, that testimony is likely a natural kind (where natural kinds are accurately described by the homoeostatic property cluster theory) and that if it is indeed a natural kind, it is likely necessarily reliable. I argue, second, that the view of testimony as a natural kind and as necessarily reliable grounds a novel, naturalist global reductionism about testimonial justification and that this new reductionism is immune to a powerful objection to orthodox Humean global reductionism, the objection (...) from the too-narrow induction base. (shrink)
Various considerations are adduced toshow that we require that a testifier know hertestimony. Such a requirement apparentlyimproves testimony. It is argued that the aimof improving testimony explains why we have anduse our concept of knowledge. If we were tointroduce a term of praise for testimony, usingit at first to praise testimony that apparentlyhelped us in our practical projects, it wouldcome to be used as we now use the word``know''.
Recent work in artificial intelligence has increasingly turned to argumentation as a rich, interdisciplinary area of research that can provide new methods related to evidence and reasoning in the area of law. Douglas Walton provides an introduction to basic concepts, tools and methods in argumentation theory and artificial intelligence as applied to the analysis and evaluation of witness testimony. He shows how witness testimony is by its nature inherently fallible and sometimes subject to disastrous failures. At the same (...) time such testimony can provide evidence that is not only necessary but inherently reasonable for logically guiding legal experts to accept or reject a claim. Walton shows how to overcome the traditional disdain for witness testimony as a type of evidence shown by logical positivists, and the views of trial sceptics who doubt that trial rules deal with witness testimony in a way that yields a rational decision-making process. (shrink)
Two models of assertion are described and their epistemological implications considered. The assurance model draws a parallel between the ethical norms surrounding promising and the epistemic norms which facilitate the transmission of testimonial knowledge. This model is rejected in favour of the view that assertion transmits knowledge by expressing belief. I go on to compare the epistemology of testimony with the epistemology of memory.
Can one gain testimonial knowledge from unsafe testimony? It might seem not, on the grounds that if a piece of testimony is unsafe, then any belief based on it in such a way as to make the belief genuinely testimonial is bound itself to be unsafe: the lack of safety must transmit from the testimony to the testimonial belief. If in addition we accept that knowledge requires safety, the result seems to be that one cannot gain testimonial (...) knowledge from unsafe testimony. In a pair of recent papers, however, Sanford Goldberg has challenged this apparently plausible line of thought. Goldberg presents two examples intended to show that a testimonial belief can be safe, even if the testimony on which it is based is unsafe: the lack of safety need not transmit from the testimony to the testimonial belief. In this paper, I question whether Goldberg’s examples really do show that one can gain safe testimonial belief from unsafe testimony. The problem, I explain, is that both examples appear (for different reasons) to be open to objection. Nevertheless, I argue that although Goldberg’s examples do not establish his conclusion, the conclusion itself is true: one can gain safe testimonial belief from unsafe testimony. I base my argument on an example which differs in structure from Goldberg’s examples, and I argue that due to this difference, my example avoids the problems which Goldberg’s examples face. (shrink)
In light of recent social psychological literature, I expand Miranda Fricker’s important notion of testimonial injustice. A fair portion of Fricker’s account rests on an older paradigm of stereotype and prejudice. Given recent empirical work, I argue for what I dub prescriptive credibility deficits in which a backlash effect leads to the assignment of a diminished level of credibility to persons who act in counter-stereotypic manners, thereby flouting prescriptive stereotypes. The notion of a prescriptive credibility deficit is not merely an (...) interesting conceptual addendum that can be appended to Fricker’s theory without need for further emendation. I develop the wider implications of prescriptive credibility deficits and argue that they pose a challenge to Fricker’s conception of the function of credibility assignments in conversational exchange and how a virtuous listener should respond to the potential threat of a prejudicial stereotype affecting her credibility assignments. (shrink)
Domestic violence and abuse are at last coming to be recognised as serious global public health problems. Nevertheless, many women with personal histories of DVA decline to disclose them to healthcare practitioners. In the health sciences, recent empirical work has identified many factors that impede DVA disclosure, known as barriers to disclosure. Drawing on recent work in social epistemology on testimonial silencing, we might wonder why so many people withhold their testimony and whether there is some kind of epistemic (...) injustice afoot here. In this paper, I offer some philosophical reflections on DVA disclosure in clinical contexts and the associated barriers to disclosure. I argue that women with personal histories of DVA are vulnerable to a certain form of testimonial injustice in clinical contexts, namely, testimonial smothering, and that this may help to explain why they withhold that testimony. It is my contention that this can help explain the low rates of DVA disclosure by patients to healthcare practitioners. (shrink)
Unusability pessimism has recently emerged as an appealing new option for pessimists about aesthetic testimony—those who deny the legitimacy of forming aesthetic beliefs on the basis of testimony. Unusability pessimists argue that we should reject the traditional pessimistic stance that knowledge of aesthetic matters is unavailable via testimony in favour of the view that while such knowledge is available to us, it is unusable. This unusability stems from the fact that accepting such testimony would violate an (...) important non-epistemic norm of belief formation. In this article I present an objection to unusability pessimism and argue that Robert Hopkins, the view's most prominent defender, fails to motivate adequately the claim that there are such non-epistemic belief norms. The cases which putatively legitimize usability norms can be explained by appeal to more familiar norm types: epistemic norms of belief formation, and non-epistemic norms which govern action other than belief formation. The intent of this article is not primarily negative, however, and I will also argue that understanding why the unusability position fails helps us to identify a promising new direction for the pessimist's opponents who wish to defend the legitimacy of forming aesthetic beliefs on the basis of testimony. (shrink)
An influential argument for anti-reductionism about testimony, due to CAJ Coady, fails, because it assumes that an inductive global defense of testimony would proceed along effectively behaviorist lines. If we take seriously our wealth of non-testimonially justified folk psychological beliefs, the prospects for inductivism and reductionism look much better.
Jennifer Lackey’s case “Creationist Teacher,” in which students acquire knowledge of evolutionary theory from a teacher who does not herself believe the theory, has been discussed widely as a counterexample to so-called transmission theories of testimonial knowledge and justification. The case purports to show that a speaker need not herself have knowledge or justification in order to enable listeners to acquire knowledge or justification from her assertion. The original case has been criticized on the ground that it does not really (...) refute the transmission theory, because there is still somebody in a chain of testifiers—the person from whom the creationist teacher acquired what she testifies—who knows the truth of the testified statements. In this paper, we provide a kind of pattern for generating counterexample cases, one that avoids objections discussed by Peter Graham and others in relation to such cases. (shrink)
I can, given the right conditions, transmit my knowledge to you by telling you some information. If I know the time, and if all goes well, I can bring it about that you know it too. If conditions are right, all I have to do is assert to you what time it is. Paradigmatically, speakers use assertions to transmit what they know to their hearers. Clearly, assertion and testimony are tightly connected. The nature of this connection, however, is not (...) so clear. According to many accounts, assertion has an epistemic constitutive norm. This norm appears to be able to account for some important features of testimony: first, testimonial knowledge transmission, second, the reliability of testimony, and third, the epistemic rights exchanged in cases of testimony. In this paper, however, I argue against this apparent ability. The constitutive norm of assertion, I argue, plays no role in accounts of testimonial knowledge transmission, or of the epistemic rights that testimony confers. This is especially clear whe.. (shrink)
According to the Interpersonal View of Testimony, testimonial justification is non-evidential in nature. I begin by arguing that the IVT has the following problem: If the IVT is true, then young children and people with autism cannot participate in testimonial exchanges; but young children and people with autism can participate in testimonial exchanges; thus, the IVT should be rejected on the grounds that it has over-cognized what it takes to give and receive testimony. Afterwards, I consider what I (...) take to be the two best motivations for the IVT and argue that they both fail. The overarching lesson, then, is that the IVT is unmotivated and false; we should think of testimonial justification as being evidential in nature. (shrink)
Jennifer Lackey ('Testimonial Knowledge and Transmission' The Philosophical Quarterly 1999) and Peter Graham ('Conveying Information, Synthese 2000, 'Transferring Knowledge' Nous 2000) offered counterexamples to show that a hearer can acquire knowledge that P from a speaker who asserts that P, but the speaker does not know that P. These examples suggest testimony can generate knowledge. The showpiece of Lackey's examples is the Schoolteacher case. This paper shows that Lackey's case does not undermine the orthodox view that testimony cannot (...) generate knowledge. This paper explains why Lackey's arguments to the contrary are ineffective for they misunderstand the intuitive rationale for the view that testimony cannot generate knowledge. This paper then elaborates on a version of the case from Graham's paper 'Conveying Information' (the Fossil case) that effectively shows that testimony can generate knowledge. This paper then provides a deeper informative explanation for how it is that testimony transfers knowledge, and why there should be cases where testimony generates knowledge. (shrink)
The first book since Coady's 1992 'Testimony: A Philosophical Study' to offer a thorough survey and a philosophical introduction to testimony and its epistemological problems, while at the same time advancing a novel view that proposes independent justificatory pathways for the acceptance and rejection of testimony, respectively. // Table of Contents: // Introduction / 1. What is Testimony? / 2. The Testimonial Conundrum / 3. Testimony, Perception, Memory, and Inference / 4. Testimony and Evidence (...) / 5. Reductionism and Anti-Reductionism / 6. Hybrid Theories of Testimony / 7. Testimonial Knowledge: Transmission and Generation / 8. Trust and Assurance / 9. Expert Testimony / 10. Pathologies of Testimony / 11. Testimony and the Value of Knowledge / Glossary / Bibliography / Index. (shrink)
It is generally acknowledged that testifiers can play a central role in the production of knowledge and other valuable epistemic states in others. But does such a role warrant any form of epistemic credit and is an agent more successful qua epistemic agent insofar as she is a successful testifier? I here propose an affirmative answer to both questions. The core of the current paper consists in a sustained defence of this proposal against a series of objections. I further argue (...) that the proposal allows us to recognize an important additional epistemic harm that arises in cases of testimonial injustice beyond those described by Miranda Fricker. Finally, I conclude by distinguishing between four kinds of credit - distinctions that allow us to avoid inappropriately attributing epistemic credit in problematic cases. If the current proposal is correct, our understanding of successful epistemic agents needs to be significantly modified in order to take into account their role in producing epistemically valuable states in others. (shrink)
In this paper I defend the claim that testimony can serve as a basic source of knowledge of other people’s mental lives against the objection that testimonial knowledge presupposes knowledge of other people’s mental lives and therefore can’t be used to explain it.
Epistemologists typically assume that the acquisition of knowledge from testimony is not threatened at the stage at which audiences interpret what proposition a speaker has asserted. Attention is instead typically paid to the epistemic status of a belief formed on the basis of testimony that it is assumed has the same content as the speaker’s assertion. Andrew Peet has pioneered an account of how linguistic context sensitivity can threaten the assumption. His account locates the threat in contexts in (...) which an audience’s evidence under-determines which proposition a speaker is asserting. I argue that Peet’s epistemic uncertainty account of the threat is mistaken and I propose an alternative. The alternative locates the threat in contexts that provide factors that give audiences a mistaken psychological certainty or confidence that a speaker has asserted a proposition she has not. (shrink)
I examine a distinctive kind of injustice which arises when people are maltreated in their capacity as potential conveyors of knowledge. Extant discussions of testimonial injustice usually assume that the injustice occurs when an audience ignores the claims made by a testifier. This assumption obscures the fact that there are occasions where the best framework for thinking about testimonial injustice is that of inappropriately rejecting, not ignoring, those claims; the injustice differs in these two kinds of case. Light is thrown (...) on the injustice involved in inappropriate rejection by examining the epistemic import of the distinctive second-person interrelations in play in such testimonial interactions. (shrink)
This chapter gives substance to the idea of a ‘communitarian value-driven epistemology’ by developing and combining ideas from Edward Craig's and Bernard Williams' ‘epistemic genealogy’ and Barry Barnes' and Steven Shapin's ‘sociology of knowledge’. In order to make transparent how this project might slot into more familiar, or more mainstream, projects, the paper maintains throughout a critical dialogue with Jon Kvanvig's position. The chapter is structured around an attempt to defend Craig's position against Kvanvig's criticisms: by treating the institution of (...)testimony as a collective good underwritten by the intrinsic and interrelated values of accuracy and sincerity; by rendering protoknowledge attributions as ascriptions of honour; and by allowing attributions of protoknowledge to be intertwined with attributions of freedom. The view that emerges is that the core of our knowledge practices comprises institutions of testimony, and that these practices are a collective good. (shrink)