Testimonial justice and the voluntarism problem: the virtue of just acceptance

Journal of Philosophy of Education 57 (4-5):803-825 (2024)
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ABSTRACT This paper examines the ‘voluntarism’ challenge for achieving testimonial justice and advocates the virtue of just acceptance of testimony as the right target for efforts to alleviate testimonial injustice. First, we review the credibility deficit case of interpersonal testimonial injustice and explain how the doxastic voluntarism problem poses a challenge to redressing such testimonial injustice. Specifically, the voluntarism problem seems to rule out straightforward control over what and whom people believe; thus, the solution to the problem of testimonial injustice cannot lie in voluntarily self-correcting unjust credibility judgements and replacing them with just testimonial beliefs. Second, we identify three distinctive characteristics of acceptance of testimony, as distinct from belief, and argue that, while it might be difficult to form credibility judgements completely voluntarily, it is easier to control one’s attitude of acceptance towards a speaker’s testimony. We hold that shifting focus from testimonial belief to acceptance can overcome the problem of (synchronic) involuntarism about testimonial belief. Third, we articulate a vision of a virtue of just acceptance of testimony that can move a hearer to collect the right evidence to reliably find the answer to whether a speaker’s testimony is true. Finally, we demonstrate that encouraging people to take a virtuous attitude of just acceptance towards a speaker’s testimony forms the basis of a remedial vision of education that can play a distinctive role in fostering the virtue of just acceptance aimed at testimonial justice.



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Author Profiles

Ben Kotzee
University of Birmingham
Kunimasa Sato
CUNY Graduate Center

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