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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. Edward Craig (1986). The Practical Explication of Knowledge. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 87:211 - 226.
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  2. Leigh Gilmore, Janice Doane & Devon Hodges (2005). The Limits of Autobiography: Trauma and Testimony. Hypatia 20 (2):210-213.
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  3. Jennifer Lackey (2006). 1. Reductionism. In Jennifer Lackey & Ernest Sosa (eds.), The Epistemology of Testimony. Oxford University Press 160.
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  4. Kevin McCain (2016). The Nature of Scientific Knowledge: An Explanatory Approach. Springer.
    This book offers a comprehensive and accessible introduction to the epistemology of science. It not only introduces readers to the general epistemological discussion of the nature of knowledge, but also provides key insights into the particular nuances of scientific knowledge. No prior knowledge of philosophy or science is assumed by The Nature of Scientific Knowledge. Nevertheless, the reader is taken on a journey through several core concepts of epistemology and philosophy of science that not only explores the characteristics of the (...)
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  5. Nancy K. Miller & Jason Tougaw (eds.) (2002). Extremities: Trauma, Testimony, Community. Illinois University Press.
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  6. John Moody (1947). A Testimonial to Grace. Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 22 (1):185-186.
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  7. Luis Antonio Sánchez Navarro (2002). Carácter testimonial de la Sagrada Escritura. Revista Agustiniana 43 (131):349-370.
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  8. Philip James Nickel (2002). Moral Dependence: Reliance on Moral Testimony. Dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles
    Moral dependence is taking another person's assertion or "testimony" that C as a reason to believe C , such that whatever justificatory force is associated with the person's testimony endures or remains as one's reason for believing C. People are justified in relying on one another's testimony in non-moral matters. The dissertation takes up the question whether the same is true for moral beliefs. ;My method is to divide the topic into three somewhat separate questions. First, there is the epistemological (...)
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  9. Ben C. Ollenburger (forthcoming). Book Review: Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy. [REVIEW] Interpretation 53 (1):71-73.
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  10. Meg Paul (2012). The Testimony [Book Review]. The Australian Humanist 107 (107):21.
    Paul, Meg Review(s) of: The testimony, by Halina Wagowska, Hardie Grant 2012 $24.95.
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  11. Heidi Pauwels (2010). ""Who Are the Enemies of the Bhaktas? Testimony About" Śāktas" and" Others" From Kabīr, the Rāmānandīs, Tulsīdās, and Harirām Vyās. Journal of the American Oriental Society 130 (4):509-539.
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  12. Joel S. Perlmutter (2011). Expert Testimony at the Food and Drug Administration: Who Wants the Truth? Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics 1 (2):78-82.
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  13. Philip Pettit (2006). No Testimonial Route to Consensus. Episteme 3 (3):156-165.
    The standard image of how consensus can be achieved is by pooling evidence and reducing if not eliminating disagreements. But rather than just pooling substantive evidence on a certain question, why not also take into account the formal, testimonial evidence provided by the fact that a majority of the group adopt a particular answer? Shouldn't we be reinforced by the discovery that we are on that majority side, and undermined by the discovery that we are not? Shouldn't this be so, (...)
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  14. Curtis E. Renoe (1996). Seeing is Believing?: Expert Testimony and the Construction of Interpretive Authority in an American Trial. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique 9 (2):115-137.
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  15. Wayne Riggs (2012). Culpability for Epistemic Injustice: Deontic or Aretetic? Social Epistemology 26 (2):149-162.
    This paper focuses on several issues that arise in Miranda Fricker?s book Epistemic injustice surrounding her claims about our (moral) culpability for perpetrating acts of testimonial injustice. While she makes frequent claims about moral culpability with respect to specific examples, she never addresses the issue in its full generality, and we are left to extrapolate her general view about moral culpability for acts of testimonial injustice from these more restricted and particular claims. Although Fricker never describes testimonial injustice in such (...)
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  16. Adriane Rini (2012). Modal Notions: Perception and Testimony as Data Providers. Third Workshop in the Philosophy of Information:77-79.
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  17. Eileen Rizo-Patron (2007). On the Role of the Oneiric in Testimonial Narrative. In Peter Gratton, John Panteleimon Manoussakis & Richard Kearney (eds.), Traversing the Imaginary: Richard Kearney and the Postmodern Challenge. Northwestern University Press
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  18. John Alan Robinson (1956). Causation, Probability and Testimony. Dissertation, Princeton University
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  19. William E. W. Robinson (forthcoming). Book Review: Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony. [REVIEW] Interpretation 62 (4):446-446.
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  20. James Macdonald Rogers (1881). The Testimony of the Gods, an Essay on the Evidence That the Greatest Men of All Ages Have Acknowledged Their Belief in a Great First Cause, by Castleton.
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  21. Joshua Rollins (2015). Beliefs and Testimony as Social Evidence: Epistemic Egoism, Epistemic Universalism, and Common Consent Arguments. Philosophy Compass 10 (1):78-90.
    Until recently, epistemology was largely caught in the grips of an epistemically unrealistic radical epistemological individualism on which the beliefs and testimony of others were of virtually no epistemic significance. Thankfully, epistemologists have bucked the individualist trend, acknowledging that one person's belief or testimony that P might offer another person prima facie epistemic reasons – or social evidence as I call it – to believe P. In this paper, I discuss the possibility and conditions under which beliefs and testimony act (...)
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  22. M. Root (2012). Relying on Others: An Essay in Epistemology * By SANFORD C. GOLDBERG. Analysis 72 (1):184-186.
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  23. James Ross (1975). Testimonial Knowledge. In Keith Lehrer (ed.), Analysis and Metaphysics. Springer
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  24. James F. Ross (1975). Testimonial Evidence. In Keith Lehrer (ed.), Analysis and Metaphysics. Springer 35--55.
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  25. Marc Rotenberg (1990). Prepared Testimony and Statement for the Record on Computer Virus Legislation. Acm Sigcas Computers and Society 20 (1):12-25.
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  26. Andrew Rotondo (2014). The Epistemology of Disagreement: New Essays by Christensen, David and Lackey, Jennifer (Eds.). Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (2):413-414.
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  27. Ci Lewis Against Russell (2012). Sanford Shieh. In Lila Haaparanta & Heikki Koskinen (eds.), Categories of Being: Essays on Metaphysics and Logic. Oxford University Press, Usa
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  28. Dafina Amit Selbst (1998). The Condition for Transmission Holocaust - (Not Holo) Caust Which is Heard by the Testimony of the One. Analysis 8:127.
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  29. Judith M. Siegel & Elizabeth F. Loftus (1978). Impact of Anxiety and Life Stress Upon Eyewitness Testimony. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 12 (6):479-480.
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  30. Epistemically Fundamental Or Simply (2008). Is the Principle of Testimony Simply Epistemically Fundamental or Simply Not? In Nicola Mößner, Sebastian Schmoranzer & Christian Weidemann (eds.), Richard Swinburne. Christian Philosophy in a Modern World. Ontos 61.
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  31. Fiona E. Somerset (1996). Vernacular Argumentation in The Testimony of William Thorpe. Mediaeval Studies 58 (1):207-241.
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  32. Ernest Sosa (2010). Chapter Seven. Knowledge: Instrumental and Testimonial. In Knowing Full Well. Princeton University Press 128-139.
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  33. Bethany J. Spielman (forthcoming). Reliability of Bioethics Testimony. Bioethics in Law.
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  34. David Joshua Strauss (2004). Understanding and Evaluating Expert Testimony in the Law. Dissertation, University of California, Riverside
    Judges and jurors in the American legal system are not presumed to possess any expertise; they are typically laypersons with respect to the scientific and technical subjects about which experts testify in legal trials. Yet judges and jurors are given the legal authority to resolve cases involving battles of experts, and their decisions can have far reaching consequences both for present litigants as well as the legal system in general. ;It is therefore imperative that judges and jurors, despite their lack (...)
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  35. J. Sumic-Riha (2003). Silence and the Real. Testimony Between the Impossibility and Obligation. Filozofski Vestnik 24 (1):35-51.
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  36. józef Szajna (2002). Memories Old and New: A Testimony. Dialogue and Universalism 12 (6-7):69-70.
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  37. F. Talmage (1985). Trauma at Tortosa-the Testimony of Rimoch, Abraham. Mediaeval Studies 47:379-415.
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  38. Frank Talmage (1985). Trauma at Tortosa: The Testimony of Abraham Rimoch. Mediaeval Studies 47 (1):379-415.
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  39. I. Plato’S. Testimony (2003). A Testimony of Anaximenes in Plato. Classical Quarterly 53:327-337.
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  40. Laurence H. Tribe (1990). House Testimony. Cardozo Studies in Law and Literature 2 (1):103-111.
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  41. A. L. Tsing (2014). Strathern Beyond the Human: Testimony of a Spore. Theory, Culture and Society 31 (2-3):221-241.
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  42. Chris Tucker (2012). The dangers of using safety to explain transmission failure: A reply to Martin Smith. Episteme 9 (4):393-406.
    Many epistemologists hold that the Zebra Deduction fails to transmit knowledge to its conclusion, but there is little agreement concerning why it has this defect. A natural idea is, roughly, that it fails to transmit because it fails to improve the safety of its conclusion. In his, Martin Smith defends a transmission principle which is supposed to underwrite this natural idea. There are two problems with Smith's account. First, Smith's argument for his transmission principle relies on a dubious premise. I (...)
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  43. Witold Tyloch (1979). The Dead Sea Scrolls — a Testimony of Social Ideas of the Antiquity. Dialectics and Humanism 6 (4):93-104.
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  44. Christoph Uehlinger, Neither Eyewitnesses, nor Windows to the Past, but Valuable Testimony in its Own Right. Re-Marks on Iconography, Source Criticism, and Ancient Data Processing.
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  45. R. D. N. Van Riessen (2004). Beyond Representation and Concept: The Language of Testimony. In Marcel Sarot & W. Stoker (eds.), Religion and the Good Life. Royal van Gorcum
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  46. Ren’E. van Woudenberg (1997). Kennis Op Basis Van Ervaring En Kennis Op Basis Van Getuigenis. Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 59 (3):407--433.
    The thesis developed and defended in this paper is that is it false that all knowledge is founded on experience. Much of our knowledge (or alleged knowledge), it is argued, is based on testimony. Still, many philosophers have either not dealt with testimony at all, or treated it very unkindly. One of the reasons for this is that those philosophers (such as Descartes and Locke) work with a concept of knowledge according to which knowledge is certain, indubitable, and/or self-evident. And (...)
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  47. Douglas Walton & Chris Reed (2008). Evaluating Corroborative Evidence. Argumentation 22 (4):531-553.
    How should we evaluate an argument in which two witnesses independently testify to some claim? In fact what would happen is that the testimony of the second witness would be taken to corroborate that of the first to some extent, thereby boosting up the plausibility of the first argument from testimony. But does that commit the fallacy of double counting, because the second testimony is already taken as independent evidence supporting the claim? Perhaps the corroboration effect should be considered illogical, (...)
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  48. Michael Walzer (1982). Response to Lackey. Ethics 92 (3):547-548.
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  49. Fred W. Weingarten (1983). Testimony Before Congress. Acm Sigcas Computers and Society 13 (3):4-8.
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  50. Michael Welbourne (2001). Knowledge. Routledge.
    What is it about knowledge that makes us value it more highly than mere true belief? This question lies at the heart of epistemology and has challenged philosophers ever since it was first posed by Plato. Michael Welbourne's examination of the historical and contemporary answers to this question provides both an excellent introduction to the development of epistemology but also a new theory of the nature of knowledge. The early chapters introduce the main themes and questions that have provided the (...)
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