Archives For epistemic trust

Author Information: Benjamin W. McCraw, University of South Carolina Upstate,

McCraw, Benjamin W. “Combes on McCraw on the Nature of Epistemic Trust: A Rejoinder.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 8 (2016): 28-31.

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My genuine thanks to Richard Combes for continuing his thoughtful analysis of my views on epistemic trust. In this really short reply, let me offer a quick re-rejoinder to a few of his latest comments.

Combes on Trust-In and Trust-That

First, let’s get clear on Combes’ view. He claims that “one epistemically trusts S if and only if one has certain beliefs about S’s thick reliability” (2016, 8) where ‘thick reliability’ refers to the state where “one has consciously tracked S’s past history, judged that S enjoys some perhaps unique expertise, and therefore should depend on s’s testimony…” (8). That is, H trusts S just in case H believes that:

(a) H has tracked S’s history with respect to the accuracy of S’s utterances,
(b) S’s track record is reliable and
(c) H should depend on S’s future assertions.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Richard Combes, University of South Carolina Upstate,

Combes, Richard. “McCraw on the Nature of Epistemic Trust—Part II.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 6 (2016): 7-10.

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Image credit: Arne Halvorsen, via flickr

In my original response to “The Nature of Epistemic Trust,” by Benjamin McCraw (2015), I defended the view that epistemic trust reduces to one’s belief that another’s allegedly successful ability to track the truth in the past underwrites confidence in the latter’s present and future testimony (2015). On the basis of the introspective data, I deny that any irreducibly distinct, non-propositional attitude of epistemic trust supervenes on such a belief. Epistemic trust is not presented to consciousness as an episodic quale. There is nothing that it is like to trust someone other than being convinced that the trustee’s history validates the truster’s continued support in him or her as a beacon of knowledge.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Benjamin McCraw, University of South Carolina Upstate,

McCraw, Benjamin. “Thinking Through Social Epistemology: A Reply to Combes, Smolkin, and Simmons.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 5, no. 4 (2016): 1-12.

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Image credit: Steve Simmonds, via flickr

I want to thank Richard Combes, Doran Smolkin, and Aaron Simmons for their gracious, penetrating, and excellent commentaries on my paper. They’ve offered me outstanding points to consider, objections to ponder, and directions to pursue. In what follows, I’ll offer some thoughts of my own and respond to what I think are the truly insightful criticisms they raise for my model of epistemic trust (ET). Let me address Combes first.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: J. Aaron Simmons, Furman University,

Simmons, J. Aaron. “Existence and Epistemic Trust.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 12 (2015): 14-19.

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Image credit: Steve Rotman, via flickr

The history of philosophy repeatedly demonstrates that it is possible to read an author differently, and maybe even better, than she reads herself. For example, in many ways, Edmund Husserl quite sensibly considered his phenomenological project primarily to be a matter of epistemology. Yet, Martin Heidegger goes a long way toward showing the ontological stakes of Husserl’s epistemology such that phenomenology gets radically rethought not by going counter to Husserl, but, as Heidegger (1968) would put it in What is Called Thinking?, by going to Husserl’s encounter.[1] While reading Benjamin W. McCraw’s (2015) excellent essay “The Nature of Epistemic Trust,” I was struck by the way that, like Heidegger’s reading of Husserl, McCraw’s account of epistemic trust (ET) productively opens onto issues far beyond where McCraw himself goes. In this short response to McCraw’s essay, I will look to what I consider to be the existential stakes of McCraw’s proposal regarding epistemic trust. Crucially, I do not take my thoughts here to be a direct critique of McCraw, but instead an attempt to think with him by taking seriously the importance of epistemic trust and its implications for subjectivity and social life more broadly.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Doran Smolkin, Kwantlen Polytechnic University,

Smolkin, Doran. “Clarifying the Dependence Condition: A Reply to Benjamin McCraw’s, ‘The Nature of Epistemic Trust’.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no 10 (2015): 10-13.

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Much of what we come to believe is based on trusting the communication of others. It would, therefore, be helpful to better understand the nature of this sort of trust. Benjamin McCraw offers one very clear and well-argued account in his, “The Nature of Epistemic Trust.” McCraw claims that a hearer or audience (H) places epistemic trust (ET) in a person or speaker (S) that some proposition (p) is true if and only if:

1. H believes that p;
2. H takes S to communicate that p;
3. H depends upon S’s (perceived) communication for H’s belief that p; and
4. H sees S as epistemically well-placed with respect to p. (McCraw, 13).

Continue Reading…

Author Information: Fabien Medvecky, University of Otago,

Medvecky, Fabien. “Knowing From Others: A Review of Knowledge on Trust and A Critical Introduction to Testimony.Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 9 (2015): 11-12.

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Image Credit: Oxford University Press; Bloomsbury Academic

A Critical Introduction to Testimony
Axel Gelfert
Bloomsbury, 2014
264 pp.

Knowledge on Trust
Paul Faulkner
Oxford University Press, 2011
240 pp.

If you are hungry for some reading on testimonial epistemology—the study of knowledge created and gained through testimony—then Axel Gelfert’s introductory text, A Critical Introduction to Testimony (2014), sits as a perfect entrée to Paul Faulkner’s Knowledge on Trust (2011). Both are well written and both are aimed at philosophers, though they are very different in style. While Gelfert’s volume is clearly aimed as an upper undergraduate or postgraduate philosophy course text, presenting the reader with a good overview of the field, Faulkner’s work delves into more specificity as it develops a rich theory of how we acquire new knowledge as a result of testimony. And while I am sympathetic to Faulkner’s views on the role of trust as the foundation for testimonial knowledge, I think his discussion on trust is a little quick.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Richard E. Combes, University of South Carolina Upstate,

Combes, Richard E. “McCraw on the Nature of Epistemic Trust.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 8 (2015): 76-78.

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In “The Nature of Epistemic Trust”, Benjamin W. McCraw (2015) offers an appealing account of what it means to trust someone epistemically. More than merely the recognition that some state of affairs is the case, epistemic trust includes an affective, non-propositional attitude as well, namely, a strong conviction in the integrity of the one trusted. According to McCraw, if Jones places epistemic trust in Smith that some proposition is true, the following four conditions need to be satisfied:  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Susann Wagenknecht, Aarhus University,

Wagenknecht, Susann. “Four Asymmetries Between Moral and Epistemic Trustworthiness.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 6 (2014): 82-86.

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‪Questions of how the epistemic and the moral, typically conceived of as non-epistemic, are intertwined in the creation and corroboration of scientific knowledge have spurred long-standing debates (see, e.g., the debate on epistemic and non-epistemic values of theory appraisal in Rudner 1953, Longino 1990 and Douglas 2000). To unravel the intricacies of epistemic and moral aspects of science, it seems, is a paradigmatic riddle in the Philosophy and Social Epistemology of Science. So, when philosophers discuss the character of trust and trustworthiness as a personal attribute in scientific practice, the moral-epistemic intricacies of trust are again fascinating the philosophical mind.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Gloria Origgi, CNRS, Institut Jean Nicod, Paris,

Origgi, Gloria. 2012. Reply to Paul Faulkner’s comments. Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 1 (10): 1-3

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I thank Paul Faulkner for his insightful comments. I am flattered that he found the time to go through my paper so carefully. Yet, I do not know exactly what I am supposed to do now because the paper is already published and his comments are in the style of a competent “referee” — I should have received it before the publication! Also, we are on a blog of social epistemology, discussing epistemic injustice, and we cannot pretend I have studied analytical philosophy at Oxford. Thus, in order to avoid a conversation that involves the biases, the identity prejudices and the epistemic injustices that we are here to debunk, I ask the reader (Paul included) to situate my intervention (and my paper) as coming from an Italian scholar living and working in France for whom English is her third professional language. Among the many epistemic injustices that we commit in academia, one of the strongest is linguistic injustice — a much debated subject at least in continental Europe [1] — and some of my arguments may appear less convincing than those coming from an Oxford educated philosopher because the style of writing and structuring of thoughts we have learned is radically different. Continue Reading…

Author Information: Paul Faulkner, University of Sheffield,

Faulkner, Paul. 2012. Trust and the assessment of credibility. Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 1 (8): 1-6.

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Epistemic failings can be ethical failings. This insight is owed to Miranda Fricker who explores this idea in developing a theory of epistemic injustice. [1] A central type of epistemic injustice is testimonial injustice, where there are two components to this. A knower suffers a testimonial injustice when she is not given due credit and is thereby prevented from doing what is fundamental to being a knower, which is inform others of what she knows. This is the first component, which is epistemic: a testimonial injustice starts with a misjudgement of a knower’s credibility; it starts, in Fricker’s terms, with the knower suffering a credibility deficit. The second, ethical, component is the explanation of this credibility deficit. There is a testimonial injustice when the cause of this credibility deficit is not innocent error but some form of prejudice. Here Fricker wants to draw our attention to one pervasive prejudice, which she calls identity prejudice. [2] This is the prejudice that attaches to a person by virtue of their social identity and which thereby tracks that person through the multitude of social activities, economic, political and so on. Thus the paradigm case of testimonial injustice is identity-prejudicial credibility deficit. [3]

The stated objective of Gloria Origgi’s paper “Epistemic Injustice and Epistemic Trust” is:

to broaden her [Fricker’s] analysis in two ways: first, I will argue that the ways in which credibility judgments are biased go far beyond the central case of identity prejudice; and, second, I will try to detail some of the mechanisms that control our ways of making testimonial injustices to the speakers [sic]. [4]

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