Retraction and Testimonial Justification: A New Problem for the Assurance View

Philosophical Studies 177 (12):3959-3972 (2020)
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The Assurance View, as advanced by Angus Ross and Richard Moran, makes the epistemology of testimony a matter of interpersonal commitments and entitlements. More specifically, I argue, their position is best understood as claiming that for someone’s belief to be testimonially justified is for some speaker to bear illocutionary responsibility for its truth. With this understanding in hand, I present a problem for the view that has so far escaped attention, a problem deriving from the wide freedom we have to retract our assertions. Retraction dissolves the illocutionary responsibilities that were set up by preceding speech acts; but in some circumstances the epistemic significance of a retraction is effectively nil. We can therefore construct cases in which the responsibilities undertaken in testimony have been canceled, while the justification for belief based on it remains in place—and that shouldn’t be possible, if the Assurance View has things right. I present one such case and press its implications.
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First archival date: 2020-01-23
Latest version: 4 (2021-06-03)
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