Responsibility for Testimonial Belief
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.
KeywordsCognitive Ability True Belief Partial Credit Epistemic Agent Gettier Case
I am grateful to audiences at the Free University of Amsterdam and the National Autonomous University of Mexico as well as to several anonymous referees for extremely helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.
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