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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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(p.216) 7 Language
The Metaphysics of Knowledge

Keith Hossack (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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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