Chapter

Testimony

Alvin I. Goldman

in Knowledge in a Social World

Published in print January 1999 | ISBN: 9780198238201
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597527 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198238207.003.0004
 Testimony

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Whether a simple reporting practice produces positive changes in knowledge, or V‐value, depends on what reports a message sender sends, who actually receives them, what the receivers’ antecedent degrees of belief are, and how they revise their degrees of belief as a function of the reports. Does any belief‐revision practice have a general propensity to improve a hearer's degrees of knowledge? Assuming objective conditional probabilities, revising degrees of belief by Bayesian conditionalization yields (objectively) expected increases in degrees of knowledge (V‐value), as long as subjective likelihoods match objective likelihoods. This general theorem applies to the special case of reasoning from social communications. As a separate subtopic, theories of justification for testimonial belief are briefly reviewed.

Keywords: Bayes; belief‐revision; conditionalization; justification; receiver; testimony

Chapter.  13534 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Metaphysics

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