Testimonial Knowledge and Context-Sensitivity: a New Diagnosis of the Threat
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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.
I’d like to thank audiences at the Philosophy Seminar in Spring 2017 at the University of Helsinki, Department of Philosophy and at the 2017 Joint Session in Edinburgh for very helpful comments and criticisms. I’d like to thank a reviewer for this journal for the same. I’d like to thank Andrew Peet for helping me improve upon an earlier version of this paper and Marion Godman for the invitation to speak at Helsinki. The research that led to this paper was funded by the Estonian Research Council through grants IUT20-5 and PUT632, and by grant PHVFI17925 from the University of Tartu.
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Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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