Testimonial Knowledge and Context-Sensitivity: a New Diagnosis of the Threat

Acta Analytica 34 (1):53-69 (2019)
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Abstract

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.

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Alex Davies
University of Tartu

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