Noninferentialism and testimonial belief fixation

Episteme 10 (1):73-85 (2013)
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An influential view in the epistemology of testimony is that typical or paradigmatic beliefs formed through testimonial uptake are noninferential. Some epistemologists in particular defend a causal version of this view: that beliefs formed from testimony (BFT) are generated by noninferential processes. This view is implausible, however. It tends to be elaborated in terms that do not really bear it out – e.g. that BFT is fixed directly, immediately, unconsciously or automatically. Nor is causal noninferentialism regarding BFT plausibly expressed in terms of belief-independent belief formation; the complex cognitive details of BFT fixation do not accord well with such a view. But perhaps the most significant issue is that the relevant causal notion of inference itself is not particularly well-defined, at least with respect to BFT. Causal noninferentialism in this domain is obscure as a result, but this does not in turn clearly vindicate any interesting version of inferentialism.
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Archival date: 2013-07-12
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