suggestions and Challenges for a Social Account of Sensitivity

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In this paper, I put the claim that sensitivity is a necessary condition for knowledge under pressure, by considering its applicability with regard to testimonially-formed beliefs. Building on, and departing from, Goldberg, I positively draw out how we might understand the required sensitivity as a social interaction between speaker and hearer in testimonial cases. In doing so however, I identify a concern which places the whole notion of testimonial sensitivity in potential jeopardy: the problem of the reliable liar. I find an apparently paradoxical inverse relationship between better-differentiating methods that fulfil sensitivity conditions, and being able to have sensitive beliefs with regard to specific instances of testimony. After examining potential resolutions, I conclude that only a focus on minimally realising the problem, rather than “solving” it, will enable us to retain sensitivity as a necessary condition for testimonial-knowledge.
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Archival date: 2020-04-17
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