Knowing, Telling, Trusting

Philosophical Quarterly 73 (3):762-782 (2023)
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This paper falls into three parts. The first looks at wh-constructions, focussing on the so-called factual whs, ‘X knows where… ’, ‘when’, ‘who’, ‘what’ etc. I suggest, drawing on both linguistic considerations and evidence from developmental psychology, that these constructions take things as their objects, not propositions; and that this may be why they are learned before those taking sentential complements. The second part moves to the case of telling-wh: to constructions such as telling someone who is at the door. This construction brings a very particular set of requirements, not just to tell the truth, but to tell all the relevant truths and nothing but. The third section, in a critical discussion of Katherine Hawley's work, argues that an account of trust and testimony focussing on the telling-wh construction brings better results than one focussed on the blander idea of assertion.

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Richard Holton
Cambridge University


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