Philosophical Studies

, Volume 172, Issue 9, pp 2371–2383 | Cite as

Modeling the social consequences of testimonial norms

  • Kevin J. S. Zollman


This paper approaches the problem of testimony from a new direction. Rather than focusing on the epistemic grounds for testimony, it considers the problem from the perspective of an individual who must choose whom to trust from a population of many would-be testifiers. A computer simulation is presented which illustrates that in many plausible situations, those who trust without attempting to judge the reliability of testifiers outperform those who attempt to seek out the more reliable members of the community. In so doing, it presents a novel defense for the credulist position that argues one should trust testimony without considering the underlying reliability of the testifier.


Testimony Social epistemology Computer simulation 



The author would like to thank an anonymous reviewer and audiences in Pittsburgh, Groningen, Munich, and Düsseldorf for helpful comments. This research was supported by National Science Foundation grants SES 1026586 and SES 1254291.

Supplementary material

11098_2014_416_MOESM1_ESM.nlogo (51 kb)
Simulation Code (NLOGO 51 kb)
11098_2014_416_MOESM2_ESM.qti (832 kb)
Simulation Results (QTI 832 kb)
11098_2014_416_MOESM3_ESM.qti (465 kb)
Simulation Results (QTI 464 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA

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