Conspiracies And Lyes: Scepticism And The Epistemology of Testimony

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Faulkner, Paul (2008)
  • Subject: PHI

In Conspiracies and Lyes I aim to provide an epistemological account of testimony as one of our faculties of knowledge. I compare testimony to perception and memory. Its similarity to both these faculties is recognised. A fundamental difference is stressed: it can be rational to not accept testimony even if testimony is fulfilling its proper epistemic function because it can be rational for a speaker to not express a belief; or, as I say, it can be rational for a speaker to lye. \ud This difference in epistemic function provides the basis for a sceptical argument against testimony. Scepticism is presented as a method rather than a problem: considering how to refute the sceptical argument is taken to be a means of evaluating theories as to how testimonial beliefs are warranted. I consider two strategies for refuting scepticism and, correlatively, two accounts of how testimonial beliefs are warranted. I show these accounts to be neutral across all theories of justification that entertain the project of investigating our faculties of knowledge.\ud A reductionist account explains the warrant supporting our testimonial beliefs in terms of our inductive ground for accepting testimony. An anti-reductionist account explains the warrant supporting our testimonial beliefs in terms of our possessing an entitlement to accept testimony. I show how both positions can be intuitively motivated. In presenting reductionism I appeal to probability theory, empirical psychology and invoke David Hume. In presenting anti-reductionism I invoke John McDowell and Tyler Burge.\ud A refutation of scepticism is provided by a hybrid of reductionism and anti-reductionism. The hybrid is conceived as part social externalism and part individual internalism. In developing this account I provide a means of conceptualising the dynamic that exists between individual knowers and communities of knowledge.
  • References (211)
    211 references, page 1 of 22

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    ---- 1997. 'Lying, Deceiving, or Falsely Implicating', The Journal of Philosophy, 94: 435-52.

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    ---- 1988. 'An Internalist Externalism', Synthese, 74: 265-83.

    ---- 1989. Epistemic Justification: Essays in the Theory of Knowledge, (Cornell University Press; Ithaca, N.Y.).

    ANSCOMBE, G.E.M. 1973. 'Hume and Julius Caesar', repr. in Anscombe (1981): 86-92.

    ---- 1981. Collected Papers vol. I: From Parmenides to Wittgenstein, (Basil Blackwell; Oxford).

    AUDI, R. 1997. 'The Place of Testimony in the Fabric of Knowledge and Justification', American Philosophical Quarterly, 34: 405-422.

    AUSTIN, J.L. 1946. 'Other Minds', Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volume 20: 148-87.

    ---- 1962. How To Do Things With Words: the William James lectures delivered at Harvard University 1955, (Clarendon Press; Oxford).

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