Other Persons and Testimony

Alvin Plantinga

in Warrant and Proper Function

Published in print July 1993 | ISBN: 9780195078640
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199872213 | DOI:
Other Persons and Testimony

Show Summary Details


In this chapter, I continue my explanation of how my account of warrant works in the main areas of our cognitive life, here examining how warrant works with respect to beliefs about other persons (or other minds) and beliefs furnished by testimony. As regards the first topic, I am concerned with the question of how our beliefs ascribing mental states to others acquire warrant. I examine three possible answers to this question, namely, (1) that such beliefs acquire warrant by means of analogical arguments, (2) that they do so by way of being (or being like) scientific hypotheses, or (3) that they do so by means of Wittgensteinian criteria. I argue that none of these answers is correct, and then suggest an answer that is both closer to the truth and more in line with the general theory of warrant I propose. Turning next to testimony, I explore some of its salient characteristics, argue that testimonial evidence is a basic sort of evidence for us (the warrant furnished by testimony is not and could not be furnished by induction, analogy, or abduction) and, finally, show how my account deals with Gettier problems (or semi‐Gettier problems) involving testimony.

Keywords: abduction; analogical arguments; Gettier; induction; other minds; testimony; warrant

Chapter.  13941 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.