Reliable Judgments: Faith, Wisdom, and the Transmission of Knowledge Through Testimony

It is widely agreed that testimony is able to transmit knowledge and that trust is important for the knowledge-transmitting character of testimony. Somehow in consequence of trust knowledge can be transmitted from the one testifying to the one receiving the testimony. For those who take knowledge as a product of an epistemic virtue, the testimony accepted on trust in this way is a function not only of knowledge but also of intellectual virtue. If an epistemic virtue is an excellence of intellect, however, why would the acquisition of knowledge through testimony count as the product of excellence in a person whose contribution to acquiring the knowledge consists in accepting the testimony of someone else? In this paper, I will consider ways in which a process that starts with trust and includes the will’s causal influence on the intellect can result not only in a reliable judgment but even in an intellectual virtue.

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