Assessing a speaker’s reliability falls short of providing an argument (A reply to Marius F. Jung)

Abstract: When confronted with a speaker’s assertion, her addressee can either fulfil the speaker’s informative intention and accept the new belief or not. If he does, he can either accept the new belief on the sole basis of the speaker’s authority or not. If not, then the addressee can examine the reliability of the speaker’s assertion. If he does, then he can either check the content of the speaker’s assertion with the contents of his own beliefs or scrutinize the speaker herself as the source of the novel information. If the latter, then he can either examine the speaker’s epistemic competence in the relevant domain of discourse or the speaker’s moral benevolence (or both). None of the above processes amounts to the addressee’s producing an argument, let alone an ad hominem argument. Only if the speaker offers an argument to back her assertion could the addressee commit an ad hominem counterargument in his attempt at rebutting the speaker’s.