Testimonial knowledge in early childhood, revisited

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28 Scopus citations


Many epistemologists agree that even very young children sometimes acquire knowledge through testimony. In this paper I address two challenges facing this view. The first (building on a point made in Lackey (2005)) is the defeater challenge, which is to square the hypothesis that very young children acquire testimonial knowledge with the fact that children (whose cognitive immaturity prevents them from having or appreciating reasons) cannot be said to satisfy the No-Defeaters condition on knowledge. The second is the extension challenge, which is to give a motivated, extensionally-adequate account of the conditions on testimonial knowledge in early childhood. Neither challenge can be met merely by endorsing externalism about knowledge; but we can meet both by reconceiving the process that eventuates in the child's consumption of testimony. My central thesis is that this process should be seen as implicating features of the child's social environment. The result is a novel anti-individualistic externalism about knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-36
Number of pages36
JournalPhilosophy and Phenomenological Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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