Testimony Without Belief

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Virginia Tech

In my thesis I ask the epistemological question: If a speaker testifies to some proposition p to some hearer, and the hearer learns that p, must that speaker believe that p? Those who maintain the traditional view in the epistemology of testimony claim that testimony is primarily a way in which speakers transmit beliefs to hearers. If this is the case, then in order to transmit the belief that p, the speaker must be in possession of a belief that p. Other epistemologists reject this view altogether and argue that when speakers stand in the right sort of epistemic relation to the statements they issue they properly testify. My project carves out a position between these two views. I argue that speakers need not believe p, but speakers must be in some appropriate epistemic state with respect to p in order to properly testify to p. On my view, understanding is among the epistemic states that can place a speaker in the right sort of epistemic relation to p. Thus, if p is a consequence of a speaker's understanding of a subject, the speaker is licensed to testify that p.

belief, epistemology, hearer, p, speaker, testifier, testimony, transmission, understanding