Testimonial Entitlement and the Function of Comprehension

In Duncan Pritchard, Alan Millar & Adrian Haddock (eds.), Social Epistemology. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 148--174 (2010)
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This paper argues for the general proper functionalist view that epistemic warrant consists in the normal functioning of the belief-forming process when the process has forming true beliefs reliably as an etiological function. Such a process is reliable in normal conditions when functioning normally. This paper applies this view to so-called testimony-based beliefs. It argues that when a hearer forms a comprehension-based belief that P (a belief based on taking another to have asserted that P) through the exercise of a reliable competence to comprehend and filter assertive speech acts, then the hearer's belief is prima facie warranted. The paper discusses the psychology of comprehension, the function of assertion, and the evolution of filtering mechanisms, especially coherence checking.

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Peter Graham
University of California, Riverside


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