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On the Rationality of our Response to Testimony

By P. Faulkner


The assumption that we largely lack reasons for accepting testimony has dominated its epistemology. Given the further assumption that whatever reasons we do have are insufficient to justify our testimonial beliefs, many conclude that any account of testimonial knowledge must allow credulity to be justified. In this paper I argue that both of these assumptions are false. Our responses to testimony are guided by our background beliefs as to the testimony as a type, the testimonial situation, the testifier''s character and the truth of the proposition testified to. These beliefs provide reasons for our responses. Thus, we usually do have reasons, in the sense of propositions believed, for accepting testimony and these reasons can provide evidence for the testimonial beliefs we form.\u

Year: 2002
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