Metaphysics and Epistemology Group (Tuesday - Week 5, HT23)

epistemology reading group

In his book Testimony, Trust and Authority (OUP 2011), Ben McMyler argues against evidentialism about how testimonial belief is justified, which he diagnoses as underwritten by the doctrine of 'epistemic autonomy' or individualism. He argues that the addressee of a telling, and she alone, receives a second-personal reason for belief that holds in virtue of the interpersonal relation between speaker and audience: the speaker by her act assuming responsibility for the recipient's belief. This is directly analogous, according to McMyler, to the way in which, when one is commanded to do something by a person in a suitable relation of practical authority to one, one thereby receives a reason to do that thing. I engage in a critical exegesis and evaluation of McMyler's view.  I find that he provides no non-question-begging reasons to reject individualist evidentialism and my own local reductionist account of testimony that conforms to it.

Metaphysics and Epistemology Group Convenors: Nick Hughes, Nick Jones and Alex Kaiserman