Joey Pollock: "Linguistic Understanding and Testimonial Warrant"

  • Date: –12:00
  • Location: Seminar through Zoom (contact Matti Eklund for link and details)
  • Organiser: Department of Philosophy
  • Contact person: Matti Eklund
  • Seminarium

The Higher Seminar in Theoretical Philosophy

Joey Pollock, University of Oslo: "Linguistic Understanding and Testimonial Warrant"

How much linguistic understanding is required for testimonial knowledge acquisition? One answer is that, so long as we grasp the content expressed by the speaker, it does not matter if our understanding of it is poor. This approach looks especially promising when combined with the thesis that we share a public language that makes it easy to grasp the right content. Call this the ‘Liberal View’ of testimony. In this paper, I argue that this picture is epistemically problematic. Poor linguistic understanding undermines our ability to recognise evidence and counterevidence for the testimonial content. Because of this, in many cases in which a hearer’s understanding is poor, her resultant testimonial belief will lack sufficient warrant to qualify as knowledge. Given that we often do not possess a sufficiently good understanding of the testimony we consume, I argue that we acquire far less knowledge through testimony than the Liberal View suggests.