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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. Journal for Cultural Research 5 (1):1-6.
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  2. Anna Akasoy (2010). Ibn Sina in the Arab West: The Testimony of an Andalusian Sufi. Documenti E Studi Sulla Tradizione Filosofica Medievale 21:287-312.
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  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. Anna Blackwell (1871). The Philosophy of Existence. The Testimony of the Ages.
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  6. Maurice Blanchot & Jacques Derrida (2000). The Instant of My Death / Demeure: Fiction and Testimony. Stanford University Press.
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  7. Tomas Bogardus & Anna Brinkerhoff (2015). The Epistemology of Disagreement: New Essays By David Christensen and Jennifer Lackey. Analysis 75 (2):339-342.
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  8. Patrick Bondy, When Reasons Don’T Work.
    The aim of this paper is to extend Miranda Fricker’s conception of testimonial injustice to what I call “argumentative injustice”: those cases where an arguer’s social identity brings listeners to place too little or too much credibility in an argument. My recommendation is to put in place a type of indirect “affirmative action” plan for argument evaluation. I also situate my proposal in Johnson ’s framework of argumentation as an exercise in manifest rationality.
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  9. 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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  10. William D. Buhrman (2011). Narrative Testimony in Kierkegaard and Rowling. Renascence 63 (4):273-286.
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  11. 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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  12. 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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  13. Richard A. Cherwitz & James W. Hikins (1988). Communication and Knowledge: An Investigation in Rhetorical Epistemology. Philosophy and Rhetoric 21 (3):234-237.
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  14. Anthony Collins (1709). An Essay Concerning the Use of Reason in Propositions, the Evidence Whereof Depends Upon Human Testimony. [S.N.].
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  15. Edward Craig (1986). The Practical Explication of Knowledge. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 87:211 - 226.
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  16. Veena Das (2007). Commentary: Trauma and Testimony: Between Law and Discipline. Ethos: Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology 35 (3):330-335.
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  17. Rodrigo de la Fabian (2011). On the Politico-Clinical Function of Testimony. Filozofski Vestnik 32 (2).
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  18. Rodrigo de la Fabian (2011). The Political Function of Clinical Testimony. Filozofski Vestnik 32 (2):115 - +.
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  19. Jane Duran (1988). Notes Et Discussions: Reductionism and the Naturalization of Epistemology. Dialectica 42 (4):295-306.
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  20. 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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  21. Frances Taylor Gench (forthcoming). Book Review: Testimony: Talking Ourselves Into Being Christian. [REVIEW] Interpretation 59 (2):221-221.
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  22. R. W. Gifford (1997). Evidence: Oregon Court Excludes Expert Testimony in Breast Implant Litigation. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 25 (2-3):221.
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  23. Tal Golan (1999). The History of Scientific Expert Testimony in the English Courtroom. Science in Context 12 (1):7.
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  24. 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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  25. 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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  26. 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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  27. Rose Gummere (1939). GOLDBERG, Wonder of Words. Classical World: A Quarterly Journal on Antiquity 33 (1):7.
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  28. David Robb Hampton (2003). Defining Science for the Law of Evidence: A Comprehensive Examination of the Philosophy and Law Pertaining to Scientific Testimony in Canadian Courts. Dissertation, University of Alberta (Canada)
    The purpose of this project is to examine the use of scientific testimony within Canadian courts and address the following issues: does scientific testimony pose a problem for the epistemic task of the trier of fact and, if so, what legal procedures will best meet the epistemic needs of the law? In order to answer the first question this dissertation develops an epistemology of testimony suitable for application to the courtroom environment. I argue that legal inquiry is a justificational context (...)
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  29. Neil Harris (2005). Survival and Disappearance of the Testimony in'Morgante'by Luigi Pulci. Rinascimento 45:179-245.
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  30. 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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  31. 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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  32. Jonathan Harrison (1985). Jennifer Trusted, "An Introduction to the Philosophy of Knowledge". Philosophical Quarterly 35 (138):95.
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  33. R. Travers Herford (1919). J. E. Thomson, The Samaritans: Their Testimony to the Religion of Israel. [REVIEW] Hibbert Journal 18:628.
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  34. A. Historical (forthcoming). Jennifer Ng. Educational Studies.
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  35. 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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  36. Robert Hopkins (2011). How to Be a Pessimist About Aesthetic Testimony. Journal of Philosophy 108 (3):138-157.
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  37. 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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  38. Peter Howlett & Mary S. Morgan (eds.) (2010). How Well Do Facts Travel?: The Dissemination of Reliable Knowledge. Cambridge University Press.
    Machine generated contents note: 1. Travelling facts Mary S. Morgan; Part I. Matters of Fact: 2. Facts and building artefacts: what travels in material objects? Simona Valeriani; 3. A journey through times and cultures? Ancient Greek forms in American 19th century architecture: an archaeological view Lambert Schneider; 4. Manning's N: putting roughness to work Sarah J. Whatmore and Catharina Landström; 5. My facts are better than your facts: spreading good news about global warming Naomi Oreskes; 6. Real problems with fictional (...)
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  39. 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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  40. Fred J. Kauffeld & John E. Fields, The Commitments Speakers Undertake in Giving Testimony.
    We sketch and defend a Commitment View of testimony. Unlike alternative approaches, we focus on the ordinary act of testifying, attempting to identify the commitments essential to this speech act and to explain why those commitments are practically necessary. In view of this account, we argue that given the commitments undertaken in testifying, a speaker’s testimony can qualify as evidence.
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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. James Lawrence (ed.) (1995). Testimony to the Invisible: Essays on Swedenborg. Chrysalis Books.
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  43. Zdzisław Libera (1989). Some Comments on J. Goldberg\\. Dialectics and Humanism 16 (1):33-34.
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  44. 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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  45. Kay Llovio (1998). A Spiritual Dimension of Leadership: Hermeneutic Encounters Within Cultural Milieu. Dissertation, University of San Francisco
    Educational and organizational reformers have identified a crisis of meaning, created by the loss of a language to identify and describe spiritual experiences. Failure to reflect upon the spiritual aspect of everyday occurrences has robbed leaders--in organizations, businesses, education, and churches--of direction and soul. However, in moral and religious language is the potential for restoring a substance and context for meaning, a context for wholeness out of which leadership may serve. ;A hermeneutics of testimony is established as a theory of (...)
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  46. Lux (1874). Lux E Tenebris; or, the Testimony of Consciousness.
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  47. A. -S. Malmgren (2012). Relying on Others: An Essay in Epistemology, by Sanford C. Goldberg. Mind 120 (480):1251-1258.
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  48. 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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  49. Richard McDonough (1999). Bruce Goldberg: August 31, 1937 - April 29, 1999. Idealistic Studies 29 (3):123-124.
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  50. Aidan McGlynn (2012). Justification as 'Would-Be' Knowledge. Episteme 9 (4):361-376.
    In light of the failure of attempts to analyse knowledge as a species of justified belief, a number of epistemologists have suggested that we should instead understand justification in terms of knowledge. This paper focuses on accounts of justification as a kind of knowledge. According to such accounts a belief is justified just in case any failure to know is due to uncooperative external circumstances. I argue against two recent accounts of this sort due to Alexander Bird and Martin Smith. (...)
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