Testimonial Entitlement and the Function of Comprehension

Peter J. Graham

in Social Epistemology

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199577477
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595189 | DOI:
Testimonial Entitlement and the Function of Comprehension

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Warrants epistemically support beliefs. There are two prominent kinds: entitlements and justifications. Justifications involve reasons and reasoning; paradigmatically justifications are arguments in support of a belief. Entitlements do not turn on reasons. Paradigmatically warrant for perceptual belief turns on entitlements. It is argued in this chapter that so-called “testimony-based beliefs”—beliefs based on our capacity to comprehend assertive speech acts—enjoy entitlements, and do not rely exclusively for their warrant on justifications, when comprehension is accompanied by our capacity to filter out various kinds of unreliable or misleading assertions. For a belief enjoys prima facie pro tanto entitlement when based on a normally functioning belief-forming process that has forming and sustaining true beliefs reliably as a function. And comprehension-with-filtering has that function. Beliefs based on comprehension-with-filtering thus enjoy entitlement when our capacity to comprehend and filter functions normally, for our capacity to comprehend-and-filter has forming and sustaining true beliefs reliably as a function. The following topics are discussed: the psychology of our capacity to comprehend-and-filter; the nature of epistemic entitlement; the function of assertion; the function of our capacity to comprehend; the evolution of language; and the reliability of filtering strategies.

Keywords: assertive speech acts; comprehension; entitlement; evolution of language; filtering; justification; testimny; warrant

Chapter.  13331 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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