This paper was written by a student at the University of Hawaii as part of an Infinity Foundation sponsored project.
If we cast an inquiring glance over the range of beliefs and genuine knowledge
that we claim to possess, we cannot fail to notice that they arise from more
than a single source. Knowledge is unquestionably generated through perception
and inference; nevertheless, it is also transmitted to us through the speech-acts
of others which is to say, through verbal testimony. Knowledge generated through
linguistic performances or verbal testimony is somewhat similar to the basic
model of communicatively generated bits of knowledge like when a bird emits
a squawk on seeing a predator and transmits to other birds the information that
a predator is in the vicinity.1 If I were to utter the words "Watch
out!" (In all sincerity) while crossing the road, it would communicate
to the hearer the need to be aware of an impending danger. Although it is an
attempt to urge someone to use his or her perceptual faculty, it is nevertheless
conveying more than the need to literally "watch". By using words,
I am generating in the auditor a knowledge-bit that roughly translates into
an indication of potential harm. The hearer receives more than an injunction
to see or to infer. The opponents of verbal testimony will in this case try
to reduce the hearers subsequent response of noticing traffic as an inference
based on my utterance, which acts as an inference prompter.
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Rohit Dalvi received his BA in Philosophy from Bombay University. He was awarded
the Infinity grant in Fall 1997 and in Spring 2003. Currently he is working
on a dissertation on the concept of Relation under Professor Chakrabarti's supervision.
In this dissertation he will work with ideas from Bhartrhari and Utpaladeva
as well as Western Philosophy. In the future he plans to do further research
in Kashmir Saivism.