[SydPhil] USyd Philosophy Postgraduate Colloquium August 4: Mara Bollard, Testimony, transmission, and assertion: Making sense of Lackey's creationist teacher"

Elena Walsh elenawalsh at gmail.com
Thu Aug 14 12:01:51 AEST 2014

Dear all,

The next USyd Postgraduate Colloquium for semester 2 will be held this
Monday, August 18 @ 2pm in the Muniment room, Quadrangle building.  All

As usual, we will have an afternoon tea immediately after the talk at 3pm,
in the common room.

*Speaker:  Mara Bollard*

*Title:  Testimony, transmission, and assertion: Making sense of Lackey's
creationist teacher*

In *Learning from Words: Testimony as a Source of Knowledge, *Jennifer
Lackey (2008) argues that it is possible for a hearer to acquire knowledge
of some proposition p on the basis of a speaker’s testimony, even if the
speaker does not herself know that p. Lackey motivates her account with the
case of Stella, a creationist teacher, who asserts to her students the
proposition that “modern-day Homo sapiens evolved from Homo erectus.”
Though Stella neither believes nor knows this proposition, her students
nevertheless acquire knowledge of the proposition from her testimony. On
the basis of this case, Lackey concludes that the transmission view, which
holds that testimony involves a speaker transmitting her belief (and its
epistemic properties, such as justification or warrant) to a hearer, is
false. Call this upshot 1. Lackey also holds that though Stella is
criticisable qua believer, she is in no way criticisable qua asserter. Call
this upshot 2.

In this talk, I aim to make sense of how the students can gain knowledge of
p from Stella’s testimony, and to better understand the undeniably weird
doxastic state Stella is in. I will offer 3 interpretations of the case
that I take to be more plausible than Lackey's and conclude that at least
one, and possibly both, of the above upshots are false.
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