Machteld Geuskens ‘Truth and Trust’ May 1, 16:45-18:30 DZ152




It is argued in this paper that truthfulness and trust are both fundamental values of epistemic cooperation. Epistemic cooperation is understood as the joint endeavor of members of a group to increase the number of true beliefs had by the group.  In showing the fundamental role of these two epistemic values it is argued that irresolvable philosophical puzzles arise when they come to conflict. They need careful balancing. It is assumed throughout that epistemic cooperation is itself basic for two reasons. The first is that any form of cooperation involves epistemic exchanges (to the extent that speaking and caring for the truth may, as much as trust, also become a moral value). Secondly – following Craig’s genealogical account of  the concept of knowledge – that concept presupposes social relations and epistemic cooperation.

This general framework is applied to the specific case of how best to understand testimony:  how could it be epistemically responsible to take  someone’s word that p as sole basis for coming to have the belief that p?  The only adequate solution is one that helps restore the balance between trust and truth: trust in a given case is justified, if and only if the speaker is trustworthy, i.e. highly reliable about the matter p. In effect, this is to deny that we uphold trust to the extent that it would trump the value we accord to securing that our beliefs are true. The balance between evidentialist and “telling” accounts of testimony reflect the general tension between trust and truthfulness.

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