David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
History of Philosophy Quarterly 26 (1):21 - 41 (2009)
In this paper I focus on John Locke as a representative figure of English Enlightenment theorizing about the legitimacy of cognitive authority and examine the way in which a greater attention to the cultural milieu in which Locke worked can lead to a profound reexamination of his writings on cognitive authority. In particular, I suggest that an inattention to the rise of a culture of reading and the growing availability of books in Early Modern England has led historians of philosophy largely to misrepresent Locke's theory of testimonial justification. At the core of my paper are two interrelated claims. First, with respect to the history of ideas, I argue that the Locke's interest in testimony as a source of justification was in fact greater than that of his Scholastic forebears, and that this fact has a simple, if as yet unacknowledged, cultural cause -- viz., the rise of the book as a mass commodity in the late 17th century. Second, with respect to the history of philosophy more particularly, I argue that this failure to acknowledge the cultural movements that led to a consideration of testimony as a topic of interest to epistemologists in the Modern era has led to a misreading of Locke's work on the subject. Indeed, Locke, though usually read as having attempted to denigrate testimony as a legitimate source of justification, in fact sought to devise an epistemology that would do justice to the centrality of testimony in the intellectual lives of growing numbers of his contemporaries in 17th and 18th century England and Scotland.
|Keywords||John Locke Testimony Modern Philosophy Epistemology Knowledge|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Joseph Shieber (2010). Between Autonomy and Authority: Kant on the Epistemic Status of Testimony. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 80 (2):327-348.
Lisa McNulty (2013). Lockean Social Epistemology. Journal of Philosophy of Education 47 (4):524-536.
Similar books and articles
Walter R. Ott (2003). Locke's Philosophy of Language. Cambridge University Press.
Aaron Meskin (2004). Aesthetic Testimony: What Can We Learn From Others About Beauty and Art? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 69 (1):65–91.
Robert Audi (2013). Testimony as a Social Foundation of Knowledge. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87 (3):507-531.
I. C. Tipton (ed.) (1977). Locke on Human Understanding: Selected Essays. Oxford University Press.
Axel Gelfert (2010). Reconsidering the Role of Inference to the Best Explanation in the Epistemology of Testimony. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (4):386-396.
James Tully (1980). A Discourse on Property: John Locke and His Adversaries. Cambridge University Press.
Joachim Horvath (2008). Testimony, Transmission, and Safety. Abstracta 4 (1):27-43.
Axel Gelfert (2006). Kant on Testimony. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 14 (4):627 – 652.
Graham Faiella (2006). John Locke: Champion of Modern Democracy. Rosen Pub. Group.
J. J. MacIntosh (2005). Boyle and Locke on Observation, Testimony, Demonstration and Experience. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 5 (2):275-288.
Added to index2009-01-29
Total downloads29 ( #57,837 of 1,096,816 )
Recent downloads (6 months)6 ( #40,273 of 1,096,816 )
How can I increase my downloads?