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Justifying Beliefs Acquired through Testimony: A Developmental Account

Chen, Dorothy

There are some things we know that we would not normally doubt. Take my birth date for
example. I was born on the 17th of July 1991. I think I know this, and am fairly certain about it.
But do I really know my birth date? And, if so, how do I know? Surely, it would be too much to ask of my newborn self to check the calendar on the delivery room wall and say to itself, “I must remember this date, for it is my birthday.” Nor is it likely that I was simply born knowing my own date of birth. So I must have learnt it from some secondary source, such as one of my official documents or my parents’ testimony. Of these two options, the second one seems to be the only reasonable one, since as far as I can remember, I knew my birthday before I could even understand what an official document is, let alone decipher its content. But even if my memory serves me wrong, the birth date specified by my official documents is likely to have been provided by my parents when they applied for those documents anyway. Hence, testimony plays an important role even in the acquisition of such mundane beliefs as that of our own dates of birth.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Philosophy
Degree
B.A., Columbia University
Published Here
May 5, 2014
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