Volume 4, Issue 1, 2012
Communication, Implicature and Testimony
Conversational implicatures, as a widely examined instance of indirect communication, can enrich philosophical pursuits in many domains. Applied to the field of the epistemology of testimony, the theory of conversational implicatures raises many questions that could in turn provide novel insights about how we should treat other people’s testimonies. The problem is not whether people acquire knowledge and form their beliefs on the basis of other people’s words or on the basis of their beliefs – the problem lies in being able to detect those cases in which beliefs and words do not match. I suggest that the use and the decoding of implicatures is a rational process and that correctly formed implicature-based beliefs are justified because of their rationality. I also suggest that minor differences between the speaker’s and the hearer’s communicative moves can generate cases of epistemic (bad) luck that can be treated as predictable outcomes of a communicational faux pas.