Papers by Matt Weiner

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My dissertation
Testimony: Evidence and Responsibility
(posted Jan. 8, 2004)
Please click here for a page from which you can download each
chapter of Testimony: Evidence and Responsibility

The (Mostly Harmless) Inconsistency of Knowledge Ascriptions

(posted May 12, 2006)
word, pdf
I argue for an alternative to invariantist, contextualist, and relativist
semantics for ‘know’.  This is that our use of ‘know’ is inconsistent;
it is governed by several mutually inconsistent inference principles. 
Yet this inconsistency does not prevent us from assigning an effective
 content to most individual knowledge-ascriptions, and it leads to
trouble only in exceptional circumstances.  Accordingly, we have
no reason to abandon our inconsistent knowledge-talk.

Does Knowledge Matter?
(draft version posted April 29, 2006)
word, pdf


In Knowledge and Lotteries, Hawthorne argues for

a view on which whether a speaker knows that p depends

on whether her practical environment makes it appropriate for her to 

use p in practical reasoning.  It may seem that this view 

yields a straightforward account of why knowledge is important, 

based on the role of knowledge in practical reasoning.  I argue that 

this is not so; practical reasoning does not motivate us to care about 

knowledge in itself.  At best, practical reasoning motivates us to care 

about several other concepts in themselves, and ascriptions of knowledge 

provide economical summaries of these independently important 

(This is a version prepared for a talk at Texas Tech University,
November 2005. It revises "The Practical Importance of Knowledge
(such as it is)," presented at the 2005 APA Central meeting, with
commentary by Mylan Engel.)

Gaps in Semantics for 'Knows' (revised version posted Apr. 29, 2006)

word, pdf


Keith DeRose has proposed that different participants in a conversation
do not have different contextually determined standards for knowledge-
ascriptions.  Rather, there is one contextually determined standard for the
whole conversation.  On this ‘single scoreboard’ view, when different
participants use different standards, the semantics for ‘knows’ have a
truth-value gap.  This essay discusses a variety of cases in which truth-
value gaps will arise on single-scoreboard contextualist views.  These
gaps will be widespread, but that is not an argument against single-
scoreboard contextualism.

Are All Conversational Implicatures Cancelable?
Analysis 66.2 April 2006, pp. 127-30
(full document no longer available online; please see published
This brief essay argues against the widely held view that all
conversational implicatures must be cancelable. A putative
act of cancelation may itself be governed by conversational
rules.  Accordingly, a cancelability test for the presence of
conversational implicatures will not always work.

Must We Know What We Say?(final version posted June 8, 2005)

Forthcoming, Philosophical Review

word, pdf


The knowledge account of assertion holds that it is improper 

to assert that p unless the speaker knows that p.  

This paper argues against the knowledge account of assertion; 

there is no general norm that the speaker must know what she 

asserts.  I argue that there are cases in which it can be entirely 

proper to assert something that you do not know.  In addition, 

it is possible to explain the cases that motivate the knowledge 

account by postulating a general norm that assertions would be 

true, combined with conversational norms that govern all speech 

acts.  A theory on which proper assertions must be true explains 

the data better than a theory on which proper assertions must be 

known to be true. 

Why Does Justification Matter?
pdf (published version)
Pacific Philosophical Quarterly
86 (2005), pp. 422-444

This is an electronic version of an article published in the
Pacific Philosophical Quarterly: complete citation information for the final
version of the paper, as published in the print edition of the Pacific
Philosophical Quarterly, is available on the Blackwell Synergy online
delivery service, accessible via the journal's website at or

It has been claimed that justification, conceived traditionally,
is not an epistemologically important property.  I argue for
the importance of a conception of justification that is completely
dependent on the subject’s experience, using an analogy to
advice.  When giving advice, we sometimes have to choose
between advising an action whose successful performance
guarantees achievement of the advisee’s goal and advising an
action that is within the advisee’s capabilities.  Similarly, when
endorsing a property of beliefs as epistemologically important,
we can either endorse a property that guarantees the epistemic
goal of attaining truth and avoiding falsehood, or we can
endorse a property that depends only on the information
available to the believer.  A property that depends only on
the available information can be valuable in the same way
that advice that is within the advisee’s capabilities is valuable. 
Justification is such an epistemic property.


Deductive Closure and the Sorites  

(revised version posted Oct. 13, 2004)
word, pdf
I argue against unqualified acceptance of the principle of

<>deductive closure (DC): that, if p follows deductively from
premises that are already known, we are in a position to
know p.  DC, I claim, is a sorites premise; it seems intuitively
irresistible, but indiscriminate application of it leads to absurd
conclusions.  Furthermore, a theory on which the application
of DC is restricted explains our practice of deriving new
knowledge from old knowledge better than a theory on which
our application of DC is unrestricted.  This restriction on the
application of DC allows contextualists to meet an argument
of Hawthorne’s that contextualism must lead either to absurd
knowledge attributions or to constant shifting of the standards
for knowledge.  Even if the standard of knowledge remains
constant, the absurd knowledge attribution is the conclusion
of a sorites argument and should be rejected.

The Assurance View of Testimony (posted Oct. 10, 2003)
word, pdf
This essay critically examines the Assurance View of testimony
as put forth by Angus Ross (1986) and Richard Moran (1999). 
The Assurance View holds that someone who offers testimony
gives the hearer a non-evidential justification for belief by
assuming responsibility for the truth of her testimony.  I agree
that testimonial justification depends on the teller’s assumption
of her responsibility for her testimony, but argue that it is
nevertheless evidential justification. Testimonial justification
is a sort of evidence that is within the teller’s power to create
or withhold at will, and that power is essential to the justification. 

How Causal Probabilities Might Fit into Our Objectively
Indeterministic World
(with Nuel Belnap) (posted Oct. 13, 2003)
Forthcoming, Synthese

We suggest a rigorous theory of how objective single-case
transition probabilities fit into our world.  The theory combines
indeterminism and relativity in the “branching space-times”
pattern, and relies on the existing theory of causae causantes
(originating causes).  Its fundamental suggestion is that (at
least in simple cases) the probabilities of all transitions can
be computed from the basic probabilities attributed individually
to their originating causes.  The theory explains when and how
one can reasonably infer from the probabilities of one “chance
set-up” to the probabilities of another such set-up that is located
far away. 

Accepting Testimony (published in Philosophical Quarterly
April 2003, Volume 53, Issue 211, pp. 256-264)
ingenta link
I defend the acceptance principle for testimony (APT), that
hearers are justified in accepting testimony unless they have
positive evidence against its reliability, against Elizabeth
Fricker's local reductionist view. Local reductionism, the
doctrine that hearers need evidence that a particular piece of
testimony is reliable if they are to be justified in believing it,
must on pain of scepticism be complemented by a principle
that grants default justification to some testimony; I argue
that (APT) is the principle required. I consider two alternative
weaker principles as complements to local reductionism; one
yields counter–intuitive results unless we accept (APT) as well,
while the other is too weak to enable local reductionism to
avoid scepticism.