Chapter

Knowing at Second Hand

Benjamin McMyler

in Testimony, Trust, and Authority

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199794331
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199914616 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199794331.003.0003
Knowing at Second Hand

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Both reductionists and anti-reductionists about testimony commonly describe knowledge acquired from testimony as knowledge acquired at second hand. This chapter argues that appreciating the distinctive sense in which testimonial knowledge is secondhand supports anti-reductionism over reductionism but also that it supports a particular kind of anti-reductionism very different from that typically offered in the literature. Testimonial knowledge is secondhand in the demanding sense of being justified by the authority of a speaker, where this serves to parcel out epistemic responsibility for the audience's belief between speaker and audience. The epistemic credentials of testimonial knowledge are in this sense importantly interpersonal.

Keywords: testimony; authority; epistemic responsibility; deference; epistemic buck-passing; address; the second person

Chapter.  16873 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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