Edited by Sibilla Cantarini, Werner Abraham and Elisabeth Leiss
[Studies in Language Companion Series 165] 2014
► pp. 121–134
The role of subjective certainty in the epistemology of testimony
a contextualist perspective
The notion of subjective certainty has been ruled out of epistemological debate as unreliable and deceptive. In contrast, in this paper I argue that it is undoubtedly valuable to the field of epistemology of testimony, where hearers must choose whether or not they trust speakers’ claims. I also argue that the role of subjective certainty depends on the context. In the philosophical context, where the skeptical threat cannot be avoided, subjective certainty can only perform a marginal role in the hearer's acquisition of knowledge from a speaker. In contrast, in the ordinary context subjective certainty can be the key factor that allows the transmission of knowledge, especially in “innocent testimony” cases where the hearer is not required to possess evidential reasons for trusting the speaker.