Matt Weiner
Testimony: Evidence and Responsibility
PhD dissertation (University of Pittsburgh, Department of Philosophy)

Introduction (word, pdf)
Chapter I (word, pdf)
Chapter II (word, pdf)
Chapter III (word, pdf)
Chapter IV (word, pdf)
Chapter V (word, pdf)
Chapter VI (word, pdf)
Chapter VII (word, pdf)
Bibliography (word, pdf)

Below are the descriptions of the individual chapters from the section
3 of the Introduction, inventively entitled "Outline of Chapters."

Chapter I: Testimony: The Problem (word, pdf)
Chapter I defines the framework for the discussion of the
epistemology of testimony.  Testimony is defined, strictly,
as utterances that are meant to be believed on the teller’s
say-so alone, not because of supporting arguments or any
like considerations.  A working analysis of this notion of
testimony is given, based on Grice’s analysis of “non-natural
meaning” in terms of the speaker’s intention to induce belief
by means of the hearer’s recognition of that intention (Grice
1957).   This analysis of testimony permits us to frame the
problem of the epistemology of testimony, how testimony
can justify us in believing what we are told. 

Chapter II: Against General Evidentialism (word, pdf)
Chapter II argues against General Evidentialism.  First
it distinguishes General Evidentialism, the thesis that
we are only justified in believing that most testimony
is reliable if we can gather evidence for this without
relying on testimony, from Particular Evidentialism,
that we are only justified in believing a particular thing
that we are told if we have evidence for it.  Against General
Evidentialism, we adopt an argument due to Coady
(Coady 1992) that it is impossible to attain the gather
the sort of evidence demanded by General Evidentialism
for a vindication of testimony.  Therefore General
Evidentialism would make the beliefs that we gain
through testimony unjustified, which would entail an
unacceptable skepticism.  The rejection of General
Evidentialism, we show, entails a principle like Burge’s
(Burge 1993), that a particular piece of testimony provides
a justification for believing what is told unless there is
positive evidence against its trustworthiness.   

Chapter III: The Assurance View (word, pdf)
This rejection of the General Evidentialism does not
entail the rejection of Particular Evidentialism, which
the rest of this essay defends.  First, Chapter III sets out
the Assurance View, the main argument against Particular
Evidentialism.  The Assurance View is based on the
valuable insight that testimonial justification depends on
the teller’s freely choosing her words with the intention
to induce a belief in the hearer, and that this is atypical
of many sorts of evidence.  The Assurance View goes
on, however, to argue that this dependence on the teller’s
free choice means that we must not, as Particular
Evidentialism does, require the hearer to take particular
testimony as evidence.  This argument is based on two
objections, which I call the Bad Faith Objection and the
Disharmony Objection.  The Bad Faith Objection is that
the teller cannot offer her testimony as evidence while
taking responsibility for it as a free choice of hers.  The
Disharmony Objection is that the hearer cannot take
the teller’s testimony as evidence while seeing her
justification for belief as dependent on the teller’s intention
to induce belief.  Motivated by these objections, the
Assurance View proposes that particular testimony gives
the hearer a non-evidential reason to believe that is grounded
in the teller’s assurance of her testimony’s truth.

Chapter IV: Crude Particular Evidentialism (word, pdf)
Chapters IV through VII present the defense of Particular
Evidentialism against the Assurance View, and the derivation
of the normative structure of testimony that is based on
the reliability sanction.  Chapter IV gives a first approximation
of the argument and normative structure.  First, we set out a
crudely enumerative conception of evidence, on which all
evidence depends on subsuming phenomena under statistical
generalizations.  Using this conception, it is shown that the
teller’s assurance of her testimony’s truth does not provide
justification for belief except when it also provides evidence. 
Thus the non-evidential justification posited by the Assurance
View can only be present when an evidential justification for
belief is also present.  (The Bad Faith and Disharmony
Objections, however, have not yet been met.)  The reliability
sanction is then derived from this crude enumeration
conception of evidence, demonstrating that the teller is
responsible for the truth of her testimony on pain of not
deserving to be believed in the future. 

Chapter V: Testimony Explained, Simply (word, pdf)
The crude enumeration conception of evidence used in
Chapter IV is manifestly oversimplified, as well as
providing no resources to meet the Bad Faith and
Disharmony Objections.  Chapter V sets out a less
oversimplified conception of testimony as evidence,
which allows us to take into account testimony’s nature
as an intentional action.  This account of evidence is
based on inference to the best explanation (particularly
as set forth by Lipton (1991).  We then set out a basic
account, dubbed the SAC theory, of how particular acts
of testimony may be explained, and thus how they may
provide evidence.  The SAC theory also enables us to
answer the Bad Faith Objection. 

Chapter VI: Testimony as Evidence, Revisited (word, pdf)
Chapter VI uses the SAC theory to give a general account
of how testimony might serve as evidence for what is told. 
We analyze every possible case by which testimony might
provide evidence according to the SAC theory.  As in
Chapter IV, it is shown that the teller’s assurance of her
testimony’s truth does not provide justification for belief
except when it also provides evidence.  Particular
Evidentialism thus remains better than the Assurance
View at predicting the cases in which testimony provides
justification for belief. 

Chapter VII: Vindication of Particular Evidentialism (word, pdf)
Chapter VII completes our defense of the Particular
Thesis against the Assurance View.  It rederives the
reliability sanction using Chapter VI’s analysis of
testimony as evidence; though the application of the
sanction takes a more complicated form, the sanction
still enforces the teller’s responsibility for the truth of
her testimony.  Using the SAC theory and the reliability
sanction, we show how presenting testimony as evidence
is compatible with offering an assurance of its truth, and
taking it as evidence is compatible with accepting that
assurance.  We thus answer the Disharmony Objection,
removing all motivation for accepting the Assurance
View rather than the Particular Thesis.

The Appendix may be found on the main papers page, under
the title "Why Does Justification Matter?"

The Bibliography (word, pdf) was mysteriously omitted from the
outline of chapters in the introduction.