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Testimony

Edited by Peter Graham (University of California, Riverside)
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Summary

Beliefs are often based on assertions by others: that is, on testimony.  This phenomenon raises many questions.  How wide is the range of testimony-based beliefs? Do all assertions play the same epistemic role, or do some assertive speech acts play special roles?  Can mathematical, moral, religious, or aesthetic knowledge be transferred?  A major issue in the epistemology of testimony concerns the rational role of testimony.  How does comprehending an assertion rationally support a belief? According to reductionism, it provides no support; comprehension is rationally inert. The recipient must have independent rational grounds to believe the assertion. Anti-reductionism disagrees: comprehension provides prima facie, defeasible rational support. Reductionism is accused of being too demanding, anti-reductionism of being too permissive.  Another issue concerns the transmission of knowledge.   Is knowledge transferred from sender to receiver? Is knowledge in the chain of sources essential for the uptake of knowledge, or can assertive communication sometimes generate knowledge?

Key works Coady 1992 is a classic book-length treatment of nearly all the major issues. Burge 1993 is a rewarding and influential anti-reductionist account. Graham 2010 is an empirically informed, proper functioning anti-reductionist account. Fricker 1994 levels the charge of excessive permissiveness against anti-reductionism. Goldberg & Henderson 2006 articulates the standard, anti-reductionist response. Moran 2005 emphasizes the interpersonal role of telling in favor of anti-reductionism. Lackey 1999 and Graham 2006 argue that testimony sometimes generates knowledge. In recent books, Lackey 2008 and Faulkner 2011 both argue, in very different ways, for a middle path between reductionism and anti-reductionism.
Introductions Adler 2008 is Jonathan Adler's revised and comprehensive Stanford Encyclopedia entry. Lackey 2010 is a concise and informative survey.
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Subcategories:History/traditions: Testimony
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  1. Sara Ahmed & Jackie Stacey (2001). Testimonial Cultures: An Introduction. Cultural Values 5 (1):1-6.
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  2. Louise B. Andrew (2010). The Ethics of Expert Testimony. In G. A. van Norman, S. Jackson, S. H. Rosenbaum & S. K. Palmer (eds.), Clinical Ethics in Anesthesiology. Cambridge University Press. 261.
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  3. I. Testimony-Based Belief (2006). Testimony, Credulity, and Veracity. In Jennifer Lackey & Ernest Sosa (eds.), The Epistemology of Testimony. Oxford University Press. 25.
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  4. Maurice Blanchot & Jacques Derrida (2000). The Instant of My Death / Demeure: Fiction and Testimony. Stanford University Press.
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  5. T. Bogardus & A. Brinkerhoff (forthcoming). The Epistemology of Disagreement: New Essays by David Christensen and Jennifer Lackey. Analysis:anu160.
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  6. James Bryant (2004). The Poetics of Testimony and Blackness in the Theology of James H. Cone. Clr James Journal 10 (1):37-56.
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  7. William D. Buhrman (2011). Narrative Testimony in Kierkegaard and Rowling. Renascence 63 (4):273-286.
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  8. Christian Burgers, Anneke de Graaf & Sabine Callaars (2012). Differences in Actual Persuasiveness Between Experiential and Professional Expert Evidence. Journal of Argumentation in Context 1 (2):194-208.
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  9. Samuel Byrskog (2008). A" Truer" History. Reflections on Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony. Nova Et Vetera 6:483-490.
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  10. J. Adam Carter (2013). Faulkner, Paul, Knowledge on Trust. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 91 (2):409-413.
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  11. Roger Crisp (2014). II—Moral Testimony Pessimism: A Defence. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 88 (1):129-143.
    This paper defends moral testimony pessimism, the view that there is something morally or epistemically regrettable about relying on the moral testimony of others, against several arguments in Lillehammer . One central such argument is that reliance on testimony is inconsistent with the exercise of true practical wisdom. Lillehammer doubts whether such reliance is always objectionable, but it is important to note that moral testimony pessimism is best understood as a view about the pro tanto, rather than the overall, badness (...)
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  12. Andrew Cullison (2012). Lackey J. – Critical Review of Learning From Words. Analytic Philosophy 53 (2):249-267.
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  13. Veena Das (2007). Commentary: Trauma and Testimony: Between Law and Discipline. Ethos 35 (3):330-335.
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  14. Rodrigo de la Fabian (2011). On the Politico-Clinical Function of Testimony. Filozofski Vestnik 32 (2).
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  15. Rodrigo de la Fabian (2011). The Political Function of Clinical Testimony. Filozofski Vestnik 32 (2):115 - +.
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  16. Eduardo Coutinho Lourenço de Lima (2010). Identifying Knowledge and Communication. Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 10 (2):125-141.
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  17. Jane Duran (1988). Notes Et Discussions: Reductionism and the Naturalization of Epistemology. Dialectica 42 (4):295-306.
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  18. Carlos Jódar Estrella (2002). La búsqueda del evento en la estructura testimonial de la Revelación Bíblica. Revista Agustiniana 43 (131):371-390.
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  19. Don Fallis (2014). What To Believe Now: Applying Epistemology to Contemporary Issues by Coady, David. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (2):391-394.
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  20. Miranda Fricker Frances, Richard Fumerton, Alvin Goldman, Nick Leonard, Christian List & Peter Ludlow (2013). Sanford Goldberg. In David Phiroze Christensen & Jennifer Lackey (eds.), The Epistemology of Disagreement: New Essays. Oxford University Press.
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  21. David Fraser (2011). Book: Learning From Words-by Jennifer Lackey. Philosophy Now 88:44.
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  22. Luis T. Garcia & William Griffitt (1978). Impact of Testimonial Evidence as a Function of Witness Characteristics. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 11 (1):37-40.
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  23. Axel Gelfert (2012). Relying on Others: An Essay in Epistemology, by Sanford C. Goldberg. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (3):616 - 617.
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Volume 90, Issue 3, Page 616-617, September 2012.
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  24. Frances Taylor Gench (forthcoming). Book Review: Testimony: Talking Ourselves Into Being Christian. [REVIEW] Interpretation 59 (2):221-221.
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  25. R. W. Gifford (1997). Evidence: Oregon Court Excludes Expert Testimony in Breast Implant Litigation. Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics: A Journal of the American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics 25 (2-3):221.
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  26. Tal Golan (1999). The History of Scientific Expert Testimony in the English Courtroom. Science in Context 12 (1):7.
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  27. S. C. Goldberg (2004). Radical Interpretation, Understanding, and the Testimonial Transmission of Knowledge. Synthese 138 (3):387 - 416.
    In this paper I argue that RadicalInterpretation (RI), taken to be a methodological doctrine regarding the conditions under which an interpretation of an utterance is both warranted and correct, has unacceptable implications for the conditions on (ascriptions of) understanding. The notion of understanding at play is that which underwrites the testimonial transmission of knowledge. After developing this notion I argue that, on the assumption of RI, hearers will fail to have such understanding in situations in which we should want to (...)
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  28. Sanford Goldberg (2011). Work: The Case of Testimony. In Jessica Brown & Herman Cappelen (eds.), Assertion: New Philosophical Essays. Oxford University Press. 175.
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  29. Sanford C. Goldberg (2014). Interpersonal Epistemic Entitlements. Philosophical Issues 24 (1):159-183.
    In this paper I argue that the nature of our epistemic entitlement to rely on certain belief-forming processes—perception, memory, reasoning, and perhaps others—is not restricted to one's own belief-forming processes. I argue as well that we can have access to the outputs of others’ processes, in the form of their assertions. These two points support the conclusion that epistemic entitlements are “interpersonal.” I then proceed to argue that this opens the way for a non-standard version of anti-reductionism in the epistemology (...)
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  30. Sanford C. Goldberg (2013). Anonymous Assertions. Episteme 10 (2):135-151.
    This paper addresses how the anonymity of an assertion affects the epistemological dimension of its production by speakers, and its reception by hearers. After arguing that anonymity does have implications in both respects, I go on to argue that at least some of these implications derive from a warranted diminishment in speakers' and hearers' expectations of one another when there are few mechanisms for enforcing the responsibilities attendant to speech. As a result, I argue, anonymous assertions do not carry the (...)
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  31. Ag Goldstein & Je Chance (1988). Psychologists as Experts in Eyewitness Cases-the Controversy Revisited. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 26 (6):513-514.
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  32. David Greene (2005). Need for Expert Testimony to Prove Lack of Serious Artistic Value in Obscenity Cases, The. Nexus 10:171.
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  33. Neil Harris (2005). Survival and Disappearance of the Testimony in'Morgante'by Luigi Pulci. Rinascimento 45:179-245.
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  34. Richard J. Harris (1978). The Effect of Jury Size and Judge's Instructions on Memory for Pragmatic Implications From Courtroom Testimony. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 11 (2):129-132.
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  35. Richard J. Harris, R. Ross Teske & Martha J. Ginns (1975). Memory for Pragmatic Implications From Courtroom Testimony. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 6 (5):494-496.
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  36. A. Historical (forthcoming). Jennifer Ng. Educational Studies.
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  37. Pamela Hobbs (2002). Tipping the Scales of Justice: Deconstructing an Expert's Testimony on Cross-Examination. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique 15 (4):411-424.
    American law is not a singlediscourse, but is the product of diverse andoften discordant voices; nowhere is this moreapparent than during the cross-examination ofparties and witnesses at trial. The sequentialorganization of witness examinations has drawn the attention of conversation analysts,who have examined the effects of theturn-taking system governing suchexaminations on the organization of theinteraction that occurs. This article appliesthe theoretical framework thus developed to theanalysis of an attorney's management of expertcross-examination in a medicalmalpractice case. The article demonstratesthat, rather than simply (...)
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  38. Robert Hopkins (2011). How to Be a Pessimist About Aesthetic Testimony. Journal of Philosophy 108 (3):138-157.
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  39. Sara R. Horowitz (1992). Rethinking Holocaust Testimony: The Making and Unmaking of the Witness: Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History . Shoshana Felman, Dori Laub. Cardozo Studies in Law and Literature 4 (1):45-68.
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  40. Jeff Johnson (2001). Explanation, Evidence, And Mystical Experience. Minerva 5:63-93.
    This article argues that the testimony of mystics provides an interesting potential source of evidence fortheism. The model of inference to the best explanation is utilized to analyze and assess mystics’ testimony.It is argued that the evidential value of the reports from mystics, both within the theistic tradition and fromwithout, ultimately proves weak.
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  41. Max Kölbel (2011). And Testimony. In Jessica Brown & Herman Cappelen (eds.), Assertion: New Philosophical Essays. Oxford University Press. 49.
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  42. Max Kölbel (2011). Conversational Score, Assertion and Testimony. In Jessica Brown & Herman Cappelen (eds.), Assertion: New Philosophical Essays. Oxford University Press. 49--77.
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  43. James Lawrence (ed.) (1995). Testimony to the Invisible: Essays on Swedenborg. Chrysalis Books.
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  44. Zdzisław Libera (1989). Some Comments on J. Goldberg\\. Dialectics and Humanism 16 (1):33-34.
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  45. Burkhard Liebsch (2012). Current Historicizations of Testimony For a" Critique of Knowledge and Practice" on the" Law of Literature" Beyond Knowledge and Law. Philosophische Rundschau 59 (3):217-235.
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  46. Elizabeth F. Loftus & Guido Zanni (1975). Eyewitness Testimony: The Influence of the Wording of a Question. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 5 (1):86-88.
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  47. G. Longworth (2012). Knowledge on Trust * by Paul Faulkner. Analysis 72 (3):623-624.
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  48. Michael Lynch (2004). Circumscribing Expertise: Membership Categories in Courtroom Testimony. In Sheila Jasanoff (ed.), States of Knowledge: The Co-Production of Science and Social Order. Routledge. 161--80.
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  49. A. -S. Malmgren (2012). Relying on Others: An Essay in Epistemology, by Sanford C. Goldberg. Mind 120 (480):1251-1258.
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  50. Kay Mathiesen (2005). Epistemic Risk and Community Policing. Southern Journal of Philosophy 44 (Supplement):139-150.
    In his paper “The Social Diffusion of Warrant and Rationality,” Sanford Goldberg argues that relying on testimony makes the warrant for our beliefs “socially diffuse” and that this diminishes our capacity to rationally police our beliefs. Thus, according to Goldberg, rationality itself is socially diffuse. I argue that while testimonial warrant may be socially diffuse (because it depends on the warrants of other epistemic agents) this feature has no special link to our capacity to rationally police our beliefs. Nevertheless, I (...)
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