An information-based solution for the puzzle of testimony and trust
In this paper, I offer a contribution to the debate on testimony that rests on three elements: the definition of semantic information (Floridi, 2004), the analysis of trust as a second-order property of first-order relations provided in (Taddeo, 2010), and Floridi’s Network Theory of Account (NTA) (Floridi, Forthcoming). I argue that testimony transmits semantic information and it is neither grounded on trust nor is it justified by it. Instead, I show that testimony is an occurrence of a first-order relation of communication affected by the second-order property of trust. I then defend the view that an epistemic agent can acquire some knowledge, on the basis of the information communicated through testimony, if and only if the agent is able to connect the transmitted information to the conceptual network of interrelation to which it belongs. I refer to Floridi’s NTA to show how such a network allows the epistemic agent to achieve knowledge on the basis of semantic information.