In Ladislav Koreň, Hans Bernhard Schmid, Preston Stovall & Leo Townsend (eds.), Groups, Norms and Practices: Essays on Inferentialism and Collective Intentionality. Cham: pp. 39-58 (2020)

Leo Townsend
University of Vienna
In this paper I critically discuss Miranda Fricker’s ‘trust-based’ view of collective testimony—that is, testimony that comes from a group speaker. At the heart of Fricker’s account is the idea that testimony involves an ‘interpersonal deal of trust’, to which the speaker contributes a commitment to ‘second-personal epistemic trustworthiness’. Appropriating Margaret Gilbert’s concept of joint commitment, Fricker suggests that groups too can make such commitments, and hence that they, like individuals, can ‘enter into the second-personal relations of trust that characterise testimony’ (Fricker 2012: 272). I argue that this choice to appropriate Gilbert’s concept of joint commitment betrays a deep problem in Fricker’s account—a misconstrual of both the object and the subject(s) of the commitment a speaker makes in testifying. After developing this criticism, I outline an alternative way of construing the speaker’s commitment, which can be applied to both collective and individual testimony.
Keywords collective testimony  epistemic trust  Miranda Fricker  Margaret Gilbert  joint commitment
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