In part two of the lecture, we'll leave religious epistemology behind for a bit and switch over to social epistemology. And in particular we're going to be focusing on the idea that social location can affect epistemic position and we're going to look at some resources, some concepts for understanding how exactly that might work. Okay? So our entry point here into social epistemology will be a problem that we find in the epistemology of testimony. So, the problem in effect is that different cases of testimonial knowledge, in other words knowledge that you get as the result of someone testifying to you. Different cases of testimonial knowledge seem to require very different things on the part of the hearer. So we're already in the social realm here because testimony requires a speaker and a hearer and the interchange between the two people is going to be important for whether the hearer comes to know something that they didn't know before. But now, in various cases it seems that we've got very different things going on here. So sometimes it looks like in order for the speaker to successfully get knowledge to the hearer, the hearer has to do quite a bit of work. The hearer has to do quite a bit of work in terms of figuring out should I believe this person? Is this person competent with respect to what they're saying? Is this person being sincere? And that's not always easy to determine and therefore it's in that sense that I mean the hearer might have to do a lot of work. Basically all I mean by that is that there's a heavy epistemic burden in terms of evidence or what have you that the hearer has to bring to the situation. That's one kind of testimonial exchange. But then there are other testimonial exchanges where it seems much easier for the hearer to get knowledge from the speaker. So, for example when a mother tells her child that there's milk in the refrigerator, or when a teacher tells his students that Edinburgh is in the UK. Now it seems like there's an easier flow of knowledge between speaker and hearer and it doesn't seem like there's much evaluation of the speaker going on or a lot of consideration of evidence of what should I believe, what shouldn't I believe here. So that's the problem, or the entry point, that’s going to take us into some ideas about how social location might be affecting epistemic position. So, let's look at some particular cases, a range of cases that we can have in mind when we consider these issues. In case one, a police investigator is questioning a potentially uncooperative witness. So here it looks like the police investigator has her work cut out for her, right? She probably has to rely on past experience, past training to try to figure out, "Okay, what can I believe in what this witness is telling me? What can't I believe? How can I check up on what they're saying to confirm before I will consider that I know that this particular piece of information is in fact true?" So there's one case on one end of the spectrum. Another case that's similar to this, a lawyer tells you that his client has no money. So somebody hit you in the rear on the highway and now you want to sue and the lawyer says, "Look, don't bother to sue, my client has no money." Obviously you can't just believe what the lawyer is tell you there. You've got some further investigation to do. Here's another case. A job applicant tells a personnel director that he has no criminal record. Well, if you're the personnel director you might believe what the job applicant is saying but you can't just take his word for it. You're going to have some, again, some other evidence to bear whether you can accept this testimony. Now think of a case that's getting towards the middle of the spectrum. Suppose you ask a stranger for directions to the train station. You're in a foreign city and the stranger answers confidently that, yes here's where the train is, it's down the road here a few blocks. That seems like you're getting more in a situation where you can believe what the stranger said, and without doing a lot of work trying, you know, you're not going to do a background check on this person to see whether they're a trustworthy person or whatever, you can kind of like just size them up pretty quickly and decide what to believe or whether to believe. Case five, your own lawyer tells you how to hide some money. Let's leave aside why you need to hide some money but your lawyer is giving you advice in this regard and it seems like you're in a position where you can probably take on board what your lawyer is telling you. Okay six, a third-grader, I'm sorry, a third grade teacher in the United States tells his students that Edinburgh is in the UK and now all the way over to the other end of the spectrum a mother tells her child that there's milk in the refrigerator. I don't think anybody is going to blame the child for just believing what the mother says in this case, and in fact it would be natural to say that the child now knows that there's milk in the refrigerator. So for example suppose the father said, "Hey, is there milk in the refrigerator?" Natural response for the child would be to say, "Yeah, there is." If the father says, "Well, how do you know?" The response is, mom told me. So it looks like knowledge was as easy as that. Okay, so here's our problem. Why does testimonial knowledge seem easy to get in some cases but hard to get in other cases? Or to put it just a bit differently, why do the epistemic burdens on the hearer seem to be so different in the different cases? So that's what we're going to look at as a problem and I'm going to now present what I call an information economy model to try to explain what is going on here. Now to present this model basically it's a model for understanding testimonial knowledge. I'm going to need a few ideas. The first idea is the idea of an epistemic community. So what I mean by an epistemic community is a group of people who are co-operating in some investigation or some task that requires sharing good quality information. So it might be a practical task that we need good quality information in order to perform successfully. It might be a more purely theoretical task that again one where we need quality information in order to complete the task. So an example of a epistemic community in the sense would be a university where they're going about their business of education. Another example would be a corporation where a corporation and business people are together who are cooperating in various tasks that are information dependent tasks that they need to make the business run. Another example of an epistemic community would be a family where there are various things that families have to do together, various tasks that have to be performed successfully, and lots of those need or require the exchange of information, quality information to get things done right. So that's the first idea of an epistemic community. The second idea is that this central task of sharing quality information really breaks down into two kinds of activity. So, the first is that there are going to be activities concerned with acquiring or gathering the information that we need. So we can think of this as a generating knowledge. We need to generate the knowledge we need in the first place. And then second, there are going to be activities concerned with distributing information throughout our epistemic community. And we can think of this in terms of the transmission of knowledge. So there are really two things we need to do here as members of the epistemic community, we need to somehow generate the knowledge that we need to get that knowledge into our community in the first place somehow, and then we need to transmit that knowledge, we need to distribute that knowledge throughout the community, we need to get it where it needs to go, we need to get it to the people who are going to be able to use it. Okay, so here's the third idea, it makes sense that there would be different norms or standards appropriate to these two different activities. And that's because the different activities have different purposes and so the norms are serving different purposes. So, for example, the central purpose of acquisition norms is quality control. They serve a kind of gate keeping function where you don't want bad information to get into the epistemic community. So you have a kind of quality control function when you're acquiring information for your community. But the central purpose of the distribution norms is getting that information which is already in the system and it's already passed that quality control test, getting that information to those who need it. So accordingly we should expect the norms governing information acquisition or knowledge generation, we should expect them to be more strict than the norms governing information distribution or knowledge transmission. So, to sort of illustrate this idea, think of the analogy of a military base. It's pretty hard to get into a military base. You have to show appropriate I.D, you might have to do a little interview at the gate, people are sizing you up, they're making sure you have the right credentials. So there's a high standard for getting into the military base. Now once you're in things loosen up a bit. It's not as if nobody's watching you, it's not as if there's no standard at all that are governing where you can go, how you can move, but things have loosened up a little bit. So the norms governing where you go once you get into the military base, where you can go, when you can go et cetera, there are going to be standards, there are going to be norms, but they're going to be different than the ones that are governing who gets in in the first place. So think of information like that in a epistemic community. There are going to be norms for getting in, and there are going to be norms for moving around, but they're going to be different norms because they're serving different purposes. Ok, so now, here the fourth point and it's a key point for our purposes which is to understand this range of testimonial cases and why some of seem very hard with respect to the burdens on the hearer and others seem very easy. So here's the point, testimonial exchanges can serve either of these two activities. Sometimes testimony is at the service of knowledge transmission. That's probably the way to most naturally think about testimony, it occurs within an epistemic community and it's at the service of moving knowledge around within that epistemic community. But other times testimony is at the service of knowledge generation. Sometimes the purpose of testimony is to get information into the community in the first place and then it's going to be subject to those higher standards of knowledge generation. So we can illustrate the idea by looking at a diagram here where in the first case you have knowledge generation, think of the blue circle as representing the boundaries of the epistemic community. In the first case, knowledge generation, the speaker is on the outside of the community and the hearer is on the inside of the community. So, in this situation we've got information acquisition subject to the norms, the gate keeping norms of information acquisition and the relatively high standards that go with that, and so the hearer can't just believe what the speaker says, the hearer is serving as a gatekeeper for the community here and so has to bring to bear whatever resources she has to make sure that that's quality information. Now in the second case is knowledge transmission. The speaker and the hearer are both on the inside of the epistemic community. Now, testimony is serving the purpose of knowledge transmission or information distribution and as such is subject to the norms or standards that are appropriate for that activity. So that's the main idea behind our model for understanding testimonial knowledge and the transmission of knowledge, and it's going to explain hopefully, why in some cases you've got an easy flow of knowledge between speaker and hearer and in other cases it's more difficult. Obviously, the idea is that in some cases the speaker is outside the epistemic community and so the testimonial exchange is subject to the higher standards and in other cases the speaker and the hearer are in the same epistemic community and so the exchange is subject to lower standards. So now I want to just elaborate a bit on this idea and see how it works in a little more detail. Specifically I want to talk about three different kinds of testimonial exchange or maybe better to say, three different kinds of relationship which might underwrite a testimonial exchange within an epistemic community. These different kinds of relationship allow for a reliable distribution of information between speaker and hearer and therefore a successful transmission of knowledge. The first kind of relationship I'll call interpersonal where it's based more on just a personal relationship between the speaker and the hearer. The second will be what I'll call an informal social relationship, where there are informal social roles such as friends or parents-child, neighbours, that sort of thing. And then third, there'll be what I'll call formal institutional relationships, where you've got by virtue of position in an institution you've got something like a lawyer-client relationship or a teacher-student relationship, something to that effect. Okay, so first, interpersonal relationships. Now, what makes it... What is it about personal relationships that might underwrite a kind of reliable exchange of information between speaker and hearer? Well, I think that in this sort of case it's going to depend primarily on a kind of interpersonal experience or what nowadays we call mind reading, where we do have the ability to sort of read people's intentions and read various characteristics off people to understand whether they're friend or foe, that sort of thing. This kind of interaction can take place between parents and children, between lovers, between friends et cetera, and the interaction is going to be governed primarily by interpersonal norms and values. So the reason you have this personal relationship in the first place is going to because there are norms and values at stake where people care for each other, people are interested in helping each other et cetera. A second kind of relationship will be the informal social relationship. This relationship depends more on well-defined social roles. So for example a parent-child relationship, a friend-friend relationship. Now these people are going to be engaged in common practical tasks but they're going to be doing so in the context sometimes at least of more well-defined social roles and these interactions are going to be governed primarily by social norms that are attached to those roles. So obviously two people can be both in an interpersonal relationship and in a social, an informal social relationship. So that's going to be the case with for example two friends. But notice that there are two reasons you might trust your friend. One, is underwritten by interpersonal interaction and the other is underwritten by a social relation. So if somebody asks you, "Why do you trust your friend Sally?" One, my... One answer might be, "Well, I know her." In other words, I know her. I know her interpersonally. I know the kind of person she is and it's that interpersonal relationship that is the foundation of the trust. But you might also say, "Well look, that's what friends do. They trust each other, and she can be trusted because she is my friend." So now you're referring to the social role and the social norms that govern that social role. We can say the same thing about the parent-child relationship. Obviously between a parent and child the basis for trust is that love and care relationship, that interpersonal relationship between the two people but there's also the social roles governing how children should treat their parents and how parents should treat their children. And so both of these ideas might go into understanding why there is a reliable exchange of information between these two people. I'm not going to lie to you because I care for you. I'm not going to lie to you because you're my friend and friends don't lie to each other. That's the idea that we have here. Then finally, you get a similar idea with formal institutional relationships. Institutional in the sense of institutions. So these can depend more on formal institutional roles. For example teacher-student, doctor-patient, lawyer-client, employer-employee in a corporation, co-workers in a corporation. So, the interactions here are going to be governed primarily by institutional norms. They are norms governing what you say to your boss and what your boss says to you and how coworkers cooperate with each other. Here we have yet a different kind of basis for trust and a different basis for a reliable exchange among the people involved. So, just a quick example, there are all sorts of institutional pressures on doctors to be reliable sources of information for their patients. So there's economic reasons, there's licensing reasons. You know if you're going to keep your license you better not be defrauding your patients or you better not be just negligent, right? So there are all sorts of institutional pressures first to make you a good source of information in the first place to put pressure on you, to know what you're talking about and then there's also pressure on you to be faithful in the way that you transmit that knowledge. And then of course there are social norms governing what the patient ought to do as well or even institutional norms governing what the patient ought to do as well. So the patient has rights but the patient also has certain responsibilities to make sure she's understood what the doctor is saying, not to just believe anything the doctor says, right, I mean, you can trust your doctor but not if she seems to be saying something crazy. Again, within the context of information distribution or knowledge transmission, it's not like there are no norms at all but there are different norms in the one that govern the knowledge generation or the information acquisition. Now we can make an observation here, fairly obvious observation, all three kinds of relationship underwriting a successful transmission of knowledge seem relevant for religious epistemology. In other words, in the religious domain we have interpersonal relationships. So we have cases where intimates are sharing personal experiences or otherwise personal beliefs in the religious realm. We have informal social roles. So people go to church together as friends, as family. We have of course formal institutional rules. So any particular church is going to have an institutional structure where there are leaders, there are authorities, there are different people playing different roles within the institution and so you've got institutional relationships as well. So all of these sort of levels of social structure that we've been talking about and which have a kind of importance for the way information flows within an epistemic community, they all of these structures can be found in religious communities as well. Ok, so with that on the board, now let's return to the two ways of thinking that we saw earlier and which had these ugly accusations about irrationality and moral flaw an intellectual flaw. So remember the Atheist thinks that evidence against God is ample and obvious for anyone who cares to see it and the same evidence is available to all including the theist. Likewise, the theist was arguing that the evidence for God is ample for anyone who cares to see it, the evidence available to everyone the same way including the atheist. So now, our model here allows us to reject that common premise. The idea that theists and atheists have the same evidence available to them. On the contrary, we can now argue, knowledge of God or opinions about God are heavily dependent on testimonial knowledge which in turn depends on one's social location, one's epistemic community. And that idea explains how the theist and the Atheist can be in very different epistemic positions by virtue of being in different social positions and that so, can be so anyway, even if neither is resisting the evidence or neither is morally or intellectually flawed in this respect.