Testimony, Trust, and Authority

Hardcover | October 18, 2011

byBenjamin McMyler

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Much of what we know is acquired by taking things on the word of other people whom we trust and treat as authorities concerning what to believe. But what exactly is it to take someone's word for something? What is it to treat another as an authority concerning what to believe, and what is itto then trust this person for the truth? In Testimony, Trust, and Authority, Benjamin McMyler argues that philosophers have failed to appreciate the nature and significance of our epistemic dependence on the word of others. What others tell us is the case-their testimony, as philosophers use the term-provides us with a reason for beliefthat is fundamentally unlike the kind of reason for belief provided by other kinds of impersonal evidence. Unlike a footprint in the snow or a bloody knife left at the scene of a crime, a speaker's testimony provides an audience with what McMyler calls a second-personal reason for belief, a reasonfor belief that serves to parcel out epistemic responsibility for the belief interpersonally between speaker and audience.Testimony, Trust, and Authority is the most developed articulation and defense of an interpersonal theory of the epistemology of testimony yet to appear. It explains how this position relates to the historical development of philosophical questions about testimony, draws out what is at stakebetween this position and other competing positions in the contemporary epistemological literature on testimony, highlights and clarifies what is so controversial about this position, and shows how this position connects to broader philosophical issues concerning trust, the second person, and therole of authority in both theoretical and practical rationality. It will be of interest not only to specialists in epistemology but to anyone interested in the nature and significance of human sociality.

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Much of what we know is acquired by taking things on the word of other people whom we trust and treat as authorities concerning what to believe. But what exactly is it to take someone's word for something? What is it to treat another as an authority concerning what to believe, and what is itto then trust this person for the truth? I...

Benjamin McMyler is Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Texas AandM University.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:192 pages, 6.42 × 9.41 × 0.59 inPublished:October 18, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199794332

ISBN - 13:9780199794331

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Table of Contents

1. Testimony as a Philosophical Problem1.1. Testimony, Knowledge, and Understanding1.2. From Human Faith to Inductive Evidence1.3. On Miracles: Hume Versus Port Royal1.4. Inference, Perception, and Sociality: Hume Versus Reid2. Knowing at Second Hand2.1. What is Testimonial Knowledge?2.2. Secondhandness and the Epistemic Right of Deferral2.3. The Epistemological Problem of Testimony Revisited2.4. An Argument from Secondhandness2.5. Skepticism About Knowing at Second Hand3. Three Models of Epistemic Dependence3.1. The Evidential Model3.2. The Inheritance Model3.3. The Second-Personal Model3.4. Moran on Assurance3.5. Intermediate Cases and the Return of Epistemic Autonomy4. Trusting a Person4.1. The Grammar of Trust4.2. Second-Personal Attitudes4.3. Trust as Second-Personal4.4. Trust as Cognitive5. Authority, Autonomy, and Second-Personal Reasons5.1. Second and Third-Personal Reasons5.2. Second-Personal Reasons for Belief5.3. Belief, Evidence, and Evidentialism5.4. Theoretical Versus Practical Reasons5.5. Conclusion: Authority, Sociality, and Cognition