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Testifying understanding

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

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  1. 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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  • On Understanding and Testimony.Federica Isabella Malfatti - 2021 - 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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  • What's the Point of Understanding?Michael Hannon - 2019 - In What’s the Point of Knowledge?
    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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  • 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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  • Understanding and Testimony.Allan Hazlett - forthcoming - In Jennifer Lackey & Aidan McGlynn (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Social Epistemology. Oxford.
    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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  • Testimony, Understanding, and Art Criticism.Allan Hazlett - forthcoming - In Christy Mag Uidhir (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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  • 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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  • 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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  • The Epistemic Value of Understanding-Why.Xingming Hu - forthcoming - Episteme:1-17.
    Some philosophers 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, and it is this true belief, along with many other true beliefs understanding-why (...)
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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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  • Do We Deserve Credit for Everything We Understand?Federica Isabella Malfatti - forthcoming - Episteme:1-20.
    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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Can Testimony Transmit Understanding?Federica I. Malfatti - 2020 - Theoria 86 (1):54-72.
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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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