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Epistemic Justification of Testimonial Beliefs and the Categories of Egophoricity and Evidentiality in Natural Languages: An Insoluble Paradox of Thomas Reid's Anti-Reductionism


The paper is concerned with the epistemological status of testimony and the question of what may confer justification on true testimonial beliefs and enable us to call such beliefs knowledge. In particular, it addresses certain anti-reductionist arguments in the epistemology of testimony and their incompatibility with the grammatical categories of egophoricity (conjunct/disjunct marking) and evidentiality (information source marking) present in the architecture of natural languages. First, the tradition of epistemological individualism and its rationale are discussed, as well as certain attempts within this tradition to include testimony-based beliefs in the body of legitimate and rational beliefs. The next section is concerned with the anti-reductionist approach to testimonial beliefs and some arguments supporting ‘the credulity principle’ grounded in Thomas Reid's philosophy of common sense. The last two sections show how the anti-reductionist argumentation is threatened with an insoluble dilemma when considered in the context of languages with the grammatical categories of egophoricity (conjunct/disjunct marking) and evidentiality (information source marking). Special attention is paid to the justificatory role of egophoric and evidential marking; how these grammatical categories may influence the process of belief formation, and consequently, how this bears upon the nature of justification for testimonial beliefs. The final conclusion of the paper is that the anti-reductionist claim concerning the directness and non-inferential nature of testimonial knowledge is bound to meet objections grounded in the structure of many natural languages. This leads to a paradox: in discussion with reductionism, anti-reductionists do seek support for their arguments in common sense beliefs reflected in everyday language, and, on the other hand, their claims are incompatible with the linguistic data found in a number of natural languages.

Częstotliwość wydawania:
4 razy w roku
Dziedziny czasopisma:
Philosophy, other