WIKIPEDIA and the Epistemology of Testimony

Episteme 6 (1):8-24 (2009)
In “Group Testimony” (2007) I argued that the testimony of a group cannot be understood (or at least cannot always be understood) in a summative fashion; as the testimony of some or all of the group members. In some cases, it is the group itself that testifies. I also argued that one could extend standard reductionist accounts of the justification of testimonial belief to the case of testimonial belief formed on the basis of group testimony. In this paper, I explore the issue of group testimony in greater detail by focusing on one putative source of testimony, that of Wikipedia. My aim is to the answer the following questions: Is Wikipedia a source of testimony? And if so, what is the nature of that source? Are we to understand Wikipedia entries as a collection of testimonial statements made by individuals, some subset of individuals, or is Wikipedia itself (the organization or the Wikipedia community) the entity that testifies? If Wikipedia itself is a source of testimony, what resources do we have for assessing the trustworthiness of such an unusual epistemic source? In answering these questions I hope to further elucidate the nature of collective epistemic agency (Tollefsen 2006), of which group testimony is a paradigm example. When a mans Discourse begineth…at some saying of another, of whose ability to know the truth, and of whose honesty in not deceiving, he doubteth not; and then the Discourse is not so much concerning the Thing, as the Person; and the Resolution is called Beleefe, and Faith: Faith in the man. (1651/1991, Ch. 7; p. 48)
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.3366/E1742360008000518
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 15,974
External links
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
Bernard Williams (2002). Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Jennifer Lackey (2006). The Nature of Testimony. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 87 (2):177–197.

View all 7 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Judith Simon (2010). The Entanglement of Trust and Knowledge on the Web. Ethics and Information Technology 2010 (12):343-355.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

56 ( #59,974 of 1,725,806 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

4 ( #166,958 of 1,725,806 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.