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Testifying understanding

Episteme 14 (1):103-127 (2017)

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  1. Do We Deserve Credit for Everything We Understand?Federica Isabella Malfatti - 2021 - Episteme 21 (1):187-206.
    It is widely acknowledged in the literature in social epistemology that knowledge has a social dimension: we are epistemically dependent upon one another for most of what we know. Our knowledge can be, and very often is, grounded on the epistemic achievement of somebody else. But what about epistemic aims other than knowledge? What about understanding? Prominent authors argue that understanding is not social in the same way in which knowledge is. Others can put us in the position to understand, (...)
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  • Epistemic Authorities and Skilled Agents: A Pluralist Account of Moral Expertise.Federico Bina, Sofia Bonicalzi & Michel Croce - forthcoming - Topoi:1-13.
    This paper explores the concept of moral expertise in the contemporary philosophical debate, with a focus on three accounts discussed across moral epistemology, bioethics, and virtue ethics: an epistemic authority account, a skilled agent account, and a hybrid model sharing key features of the two. It is argued that there are no convincing reasons to defend a monistic approach that reduces moral expertise to only one of these models. A pluralist view is outlined in the attempt to reorient the discussion (...)
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  • Against Intellectual Autonomy: Social Animals Need Social Virtues.Neil Levy - 2024 - Social Epistemology 38 (3):350-363.
    We are constantly called upon to evaluate the evidential weight of testimony, and to balance its deliverances against our own independent thinking. ‘Intellectual autonomy’ is the virtue that is supposed to be displayed by those who engage in cognition in this domain well. I argue that this is at best a misleading label for the virtue, because virtuous cognition in this domain consists in thinking with others, and intelligently responding to testimony. I argue that the existing label supports an excessively (...)
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  • Helping Others to Understand: A Normative Account of the Speech Act of Explanation.Grzegorz Gaszczyk - 2023 - Topoi 42 (2):385-396.
    This paper offers a normative account of the speech act of explanation with understanding as its norm. The previous accounts of the speech act of explanation rely on the factive notion of understanding and maintain that proper explanations require knowledge. I argue, however, that such accounts are too demanding and do not reflect the everyday practice of explanation and the attribution of understanding. Instead, I argue that the non-factive, objectual attitude of understanding is sufficient for a proper explanation. On the (...)
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  • Verstehen verstehen. Eine erkenntnistheoretische Untersuchung.Federica Isabella Malfatti - 2023 - Berlin, Deutschland: Schwabe Verlag.
    Wir Menschen streben danach, die Wirklichkeit zu verstehen. Eine Welt, die wir gut verstehen, ist eine, die wir "im Griff" haben, mit der wir gut umgehen können. Aber was heißt es genau, ein Phänomen der Wirklichkeit zu verstehen? Wie sieht unser Weltbild aus, wenn wir ein Phänomen verstanden haben? Welche Bedingungen müssen erfüllt sein, damit Verstehen gelingt? Die Kernthese des Buches ist, dass wir Phänomene der Wirklichkeit durch noetische Integration verstehen. Wir verstehen Phänomene, indem wir den entsprechenden Informationseinheiten eine sinnvolle (...)
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  • Epistemic Authority.Christoph Jäger - 2024 - In Jennifer Lackey & Aidan McGlynn (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Social Epistemology. Oxford University Press.
    This handbook article gives a critical overview of recent discussions of epistemic authority. It favors an account that brings into balance the dictates of rational deference with the ideals of intellectual self-governance. A plausible starting point is the conjecture that neither should rational deference to authorities collapse into total epistemic submission, nor the ideal of mature intellectual self-governance be conflated with (illusions of) epistemic autarky.
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  • Do your own research!Neil Levy - 2022 - Synthese 200 (5):1-19.
    Philosophical tradition and conspiracy theorists converge in suggesting that ordinary people ought to do their own research, rather than accept the word of others. In this paper, I argue that it’s no accident that conspiracy theorists value lay research on expert topics: such research is likely to undermine knowledge, via its effects on truth and justification. Accepting expert testimony is a far more reliable route to truth. Nevertheless, lay research has a range of benefits; in particular, it is likely to (...)
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  • Understanding and Testimony.Allan Hazlett - 2024 - In Jennifer Lackey & Aidan McGlynn (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Social Epistemology. Oxford University Press.
    Can understanding be transmitted by testimony, in the same sense that propositional knowledge can be transmitted by testimony? Some contemporary philosophers – call them testimonial understanding pessimists – say No, and others – call them testimonial understanding optimists – say Yes. In this chapter I will articulate testimonial understanding pessimism (§1) and consider some arguments for it (§2).
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  • The Epistemic Value of Understanding-why.Xingming Hu - 2023 - Episteme 20 (1):125-141.
    Some philosophers (e.g., Pritchard, Grimm, and Hills) recently have objected that veritism cannot explain the epistemic value of understanding-why. And they have proposed two anti-veritist accounts. In this paper, I first introduce their objection and argue that it fails. Next, I consider a strengthened version of their objection and argue that it also fails. After that, I suggest a new veritist account: Understanding-why entails believing the truth that what is grasped is accurate (or accurate enough), and it is this true (...)
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  • We Owe It to Others to Think for Ourselves.Finnur Dellsén - 2021 - In Jonathan Matheson & Kirk Lougheed (eds.), Epistemic Autonomy. New York, NY: Routledge. pp. 306-322.
    We are often urged to figure things out for ourselves rather than to rely on other people’s say-so, and thus be ‘epistemically autonomous’ in one sense of the term. But why? For almost any important question, there will be someone around you who is at least as well placed to answer it correctly. So why bother making up your own mind at all? I consider, and then reject, two ‘egoistic’ answers to this question according to which thinking for oneself is (...)
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  • Why Think for Yourself?Jonathan Matheson - 2022 - Episteme: A Journal of Social Epistemology:1-19.
    Life is a group project. It takes a village. The same is true of our intellectual lives. Since we are finite cognitive creatures with limited time and resources, any healthy intellectual life requires that we rely quite heavily on others. For nearly any question you want to investigate, there is someone who is in a better epistemic position than you are to determine the answer. For most people, their expertise does not extend far beyond their own personal lives, and even (...)
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  • The social fabric of understanding: equilibrium, authority, and epistemic empathy.Christoph Jäger & Federica Isabella Malfatti - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):1185-1205.
    We discuss the social-epistemic aspects of Catherine Elgin’s theory of reflective equilibrium and understanding and argue that it yields an argument for the view that a crucial social-epistemic function of epistemic authorities is to foster understanding in their communities. We explore the competences that enable epistemic authorities to fulfil this role and argue that among them is an epistemic virtue we call “epistemic empathy”.
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  • Can Testimony Transmit Understanding?Federica I. Malfatti - 2020 - Theoria 86 (1):54-72.
    Can we transmit understanding via testimony in more or less the same way in which we transmit knowledge? The standard view in social epistemology has a straightforward answer: no, we cannot. Three arguments supporting the standard view have been formulated so far. The first appeals to the claim that gaining understanding requires a greater cognitive effort than acquiring testimonial knowledge does. The second appeals to a certain type of epistemic trust that is supposedly characteristic of knowledge transmission (and maybe of (...)
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  • Expert Deference about the Epistemic and Its Metaepistemological Significance.Michele Palmira - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (4):524-538.
    This paper focuses on the phenomenon of forming one’s judgement about epistemic matters, such as whether one has some reason not to believe false propositions, on the basis of the opinion of somebody one takes to be an expert about them. The paper pursues three aims. First, it argues that some cases of expert deference about epistemic matters are suspicious. Secondly, it provides an explanation of such a suspiciousness. Thirdly, it draws the metaepistemological implications of the proposed explanation.
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  • Recent Work in the Epistemology of Understanding.Michael Hannon - 2021 - American Philosophical Quarterly 58 (3):269-290.
    The philosophical interest in the nature, value, and varieties of human understanding has swelled in recent years. This article will provide an overview of new research in the epistemology of understanding, with a particular focus on the following questions: What is understanding and why should we care about it? Is understanding reducible to knowledge? Does it require truth, belief, or justification? Can there be lucky understanding? Does it require ‘grasping’ or some kind of ‘know-how’? This cluster of questions has largely (...)
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  • Moral Understanding, Testimony, and Moral Exemplarity.Michel Croce - 2020 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 23 (2):373-389.
    While possessing moral understanding is agreed to be a core epistemic and moral value, it remains a matter of dispute whether it can be acquired via testimony and whether it involves an ability to engage in moral reasoning. This paper addresses both issues with the aim of contributing to the current debates on moral understanding in moral epistemology and virtue ethics. It is argued that moral epistemologists should stop appealing to the argument from the transmissibility of moral understanding to make (...)
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  • Group understanding.Kenneth Boyd - 2019 - Synthese 198 (7):6837-6858.
    While social epistemologists have recently begun addressing questions about whether groups can possess beliefs or knowledge, little has yet been said about whether groups can properly be said to possess understanding. Here I want to make some progress on this question by considering two possible accounts of group understanding, modeled on accounts of group belief and knowledge: a deflationary account, according to which a group understands just in case most or all of its members understand, and an inflationary account, according (...)
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  • Testimony, Understanding, and Art Criticism.Allan Hazlett - forthcoming - In Alex King (ed.), Philosophy and Art: New Essays at the Intersection. Oxford University Press.
    I present a puzzle – the “puzzle of aesthetic testimony” – along with a solution to it that appeals to the impossibility of testimonial understanding. I'll criticize this solution by defending the possibility of testimonial understanding, including testimonial aesthetic understanding.
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  • Can Testimony Generate Understanding?Federica Isabella Malfatti - 2019 - Social Epistemology 33 (6):477-490.
    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 (...)
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  • Understanding and Trusting Science.Matthew H. Slater, Joanna K. Huxster & Julia E. Bresticker - 2019 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 50 (2):247-261.
    Science communication via testimony requires a certain level of trust. But in the context of ideologically-entangled scientific issues, trust is in short supply—particularly when the issues are politically ‘entangled’. In such cases, cultural values are better predictors than scientific literacy for whether agents trust the publicly-directed claims of the scientific community. In this paper, we argue that a common way of thinking about scientific literacy—as knowledge of particular scientific facts or concepts—ought to give way to a second-order understanding of science (...)
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  • The Puzzle of Philosophical Testimony.Chris Ranalli - 2020 - European Journal of Philosophy 28 (1):142-163.
    An epistemologist tells you that knowledge is more than justified true belief. You trust them and thus come to believe this on the basis of their testimony. Did you thereby come to know that this view is correct? Intuitively, there is something intellectually wrong with forming philosophical beliefs on the basis of testimony, and yet it's hard to see why philosophy should be significantly epistemically different from other areas of inquiry in a way that would fully prohibit belief by testimony. (...)
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  • Is knowledge of causes sufficient for understanding?Xingming Hu - 2019 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 49 (3):291-313.
    ABSTRACT: According to a traditional account, understanding why X occurred is equivalent to knowing that X was caused by Y. This paper defends the account against a major objection, viz., knowing-that is not sufficient for understanding-why, for understanding-why requires a kind of grasp while knowledge-that does not. I discuss two accounts of grasp in recent literature and argue that if either is true, then knowing that X was caused by Y entails at least a rudimentary understanding of why X occurred. (...)
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  • Expertise and authority.Coran Stewart - 2020 - Episteme 17 (4):420-437.
    ABSTRACTExperts use their superior skills and understanding to mediate between evidence in some domain and non-experts. But how should we understand the proper relationship between experts and non-experts? In this paper, I present two ways of conceiving experts’ mediating role from the perspective of non-experts: the Authority View and the Advisor View. Jennifer Lackey has criticized the Authority View and defended the Advisor View. I defend an account of epistemic authority that avoids her criticisms while arguing the Advisor View lacks (...)
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  • Expert-oriented abilities vs. novice-oriented abilities: An alternative account of epistemic authority.Michel Croce - 2018 - Episteme 15 (4):476-498.
    According to a recent account of epistemic authority proposed by Linda Zagzebski (2012), it is rational for laypersons to believe on authority when they conscientiously judge that the authority is more likely to form true beliefs and avoid false ones than they are in some domain. Christoph Jäger (2016) has recently raised several objections to her view. By contrast, I argue that both theories fail to adequately capture what epistemic authority is, and I offer an alternative account grounded in the (...)
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  • What's the Point of Understanding?Michael Hannon - 2019 - In What's the Point of Knowledge? A Function-First Epistemology. New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
    What is human understanding and why should we care about it? I propose a method of philosophical investigation called ‘function-first epistemology’ and use this method to investigate the nature and value of understanding-why. I argue that the concept of understanding-why serves the practical function of identifying good explainers, which is an important role in the general economy of our concepts. This hypothesis sheds light on a variety of issues in the epistemology of understanding including the role of explanation, the relationship (...)
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  • On Understanding and Testimony.Federica Isabella Malfatti - 2019 - Erkenntnis 86 (6):1345-1365.
    Testimony spreads information. It is also commonly agreed that it can transfer knowledge. Whether it can work as an epistemic source of understanding is a matter of dispute. However, testimony certainly plays a pivotal role in the proliferation of understanding in the epistemic community. But how exactly do we learn, and how do we make advancements in understanding on the basis of one another’s words? And what can we do to maximize the probability that the process of acquiring understanding from (...)
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  • Moral Understanding and Cooperative Testimony.Kenneth Boyd - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (1):18-33.
    It is has been argued that there is a problem with moral testimony: testimony is deferential, and basing judgments and actions on deferentially acquired knowledge prevents them from having moral worth. What morality perhaps requires of us, then, is that we understand why a proposition is true, but this is something that cannot be acquired through testimony. I argue here that testimony can be both deferential as well as cooperative, and that one can acquire moral understanding through cooperative testimony. The (...)
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  • Knowledge of things and aesthetic testimony.Chris Ranalli - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    Many philosophers believe that aesthetic testimony can provide aesthetic knowledge. This leaves us with the question: why does getting aesthetic knowledge by experience – by seeing a painting up close, or witnessing a performance first-hand – nevertheless seem superior to aesthetic testimony? I argue that it is due to differences in their epistemic value; in the diversity of epistemic goods each one provides. Aesthetic experience, or the experience of art or other aesthetic objects, affords multiple, distinctive epistemic goods whereas aesthetic (...)
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  • Doing Good with Words: The Virtue of Benevolent Persuasiveness.Veronica Campos - forthcoming - Episteme:1-21.
    Contemporary virtue epistemology has been progressing remarkably in the activity of virtue profiling, yet a lot remains to be discussed about the many ways and extents to which some virtues and vices of the intellect impact our lives. This paper is an attempt at sketching a preliminary profile to an epistemic virtue that hasn't received a lot of attention to this date: the virtue of being a good convincer, aka persuasiveness. I submit that there is a particular way of using (...)
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