Knowledge from Scientific Expert Testimony without Epistemic Trust

Journal article
(Original article)

Publication Details

Author(s): Leefmann J, Lesle S
Journal: Synthese
Publication year: 2018
Journal issue: 195
Pages range: 1-31
ISSN: 0039-7857
Language: English


In this paper we address the question of how it can be possible for a non-expert to acquire justified true
belief from expert testimony. We discuss reductionism and epistemic trust as theoretical approaches to
answer this question and present a novel solution that avoids major problems of both theoretical options:
Performative Expert Testimony (PET). PET draws on a functional account of expertise insofar as it takes
the expert’s visibility as a good informant capable to satisfy informational needs as equally important as
her specific skills and knowledge. We explain how PET generates justification for testimonial belief,
which is at once assessable for non-experts and maintains the division of epistemic labor between them and
the experts. Thereafter we defend PET against two objections. First, we point out that the non-expert’s
interest in acquiring widely assertable true beliefs and the expert’s interest in maintaining her status as a
good informant counterbalances the relativist account of justification at work in PET. Second, we show
that with regard to the interests at work in testimonial exchanges between experts and non-experts, PET
yields a better explanation of knowledge-acquisition from expert testimony than externalist accounts of
justification such as reliabilism. As our arguments ground in a conception of knowledge, which conceives
of belief-justification as a declarative speech act, throughout the rearmost sections of this paper we also
indicate to how such a conception is operationalized in PET.

FAU Authors / FAU Editors

Leefmann, Jon Dr.
Zentralinstitut für Wissenschaftsreflexion und Schlüsselqualifikationen (ZIWIS)
Lesle, Steffen
Lehrstuhl für Philosophie

How to cite

Leefmann, J., & Lesle, S. (2018). Knowledge from Scientific Expert Testimony without Epistemic Trust. Synthese, 195, 1-31.

Leefmann, Jon, and Steffen Lesle. "Knowledge from Scientific Expert Testimony without Epistemic Trust." Synthese 195 (2018): 1-31.


Last updated on 2019-24-04 at 06:21