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The Metaphysics of Knowledge$
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Keith Hossack

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199206728

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199206728.001.0001

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Chapter:
(p.216) 7 Language
Source:
The Metaphysics of Knowledge
Author(s):

Keith Hossack (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199206728.003.0007

The Faculty Model treats the acquisition of knowledge by testimony as similar to the acquisition of knowledge by perception. When one becomes aware of a fact κ by immediate visual perception, the seen fact causes one's visual faculty to cause in one a conscious mental act, namely a visual experience with the content that κ; if the context is suitable, the mental act in turn causes one to know the fact that κ. In just the same way, according to the Faculty Model, when one learns a fact κ by testimony s which means that κ in one's language, the speaker's uttering s causes one's language faculty to cause a conscious mental act of reading that κ; if the context is suitable this causes one to know the fact that κ. This chapter develops this account. Section 1 gives an account of the grammar of a language. Section 2 introduces the mental act or ‘propositional attitude’ of reading that κ, and offers a definition of the ability to understand or speak a language. Section 3 criticizes the Inferential Model of testimony, Section 4 advocates the Faculty Model, and Section 5 elaborates the analogy between testimony and perception. Section 6 discusses how to define use, and says it cannot be defined as a regularity of ‘truthfulness and trust’; Section 7 says it cannot be defined as a regularity of testimony. Section 8 proposes that a sentence is an artefact, and that its use can be defined as its design end or function, namely the communication of a certain content by testimony.

Keywords:   grammar, reading, Faculty Model, Inferential Model, testimony, perception, truthfulness, trust, artefact

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