Testimony

Edited by Peter Graham (University of California, Riverside)
About this topic
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.
Related categories
Subcategories:History/traditions: Testimony

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  1. Trust in Expert Testimony: Eddington's 1919 Eclipse Expedition and the British Response to General Relativity.Ben Almassi - 2009 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 40 (1):57-67.
  2. From Puzzles to Principles?: Essays on Aristotle's Dialectic.Allan Bäck, Robert Bolton, J. D. G. Evans, Michael Ferejohn, Eugene Garver, Lenn E. Goodman, Edward Halper, Martha Husain, Gareth Matthews & Robin Smith - 1999 - Lexington Books.
    Scholars of classical philosophy have long disputed whether Aristotle was a dialectical thinker. Most agree that Aristotle contrasts dialectical reasoning with demonstrative reasoning, where the former reasons from generally accepted opinions and the latter reasons from the true and primary. Starting with a grasp on truth, demonstration never relinquishes it. Starting with opinion, how could dialectical reasoning ever reach truth, much less the truth about first principles? Is dialectic then an exercise that reiterates the prejudices of one's times and at (...)
  3. Imwinkelried's Argument for Normative Ethical Testimony.David W. Barnes - 2005 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 33 (2):234-241.
  4. Expert Testimony by Persons Trained in Ethical Reasoning: The Case of Andrew Sawatzky.Françoise Baylis - 2000 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 28 (3):224-231.
  5. Rebuttal: Expert Ethics Testimony.Françoise Baylis - 2000 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 28 (3):240-242.
  6. Reliability of Retrieving Information From Knowledge Structures in Memory: Self Information.Francis S. Bellezza - 1987 - Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 25 (6):407-410.
  7. Eyewitness Accuracy: A General Observational Skill?Robert Boice, C. Patricia Hanley, Peter Shaughnessy & David Gansler - 1982 - Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 20 (4):193-195.
  8. Explorations in Information Space: Knowledge, Agents, and Organization.Max H. Boisot, Ian C. MacMillan & Kyeong Seok Han - 2007 - Oxford University Press.
    With the rise of the knowledge economy, the knowledge content of goods and services is going up just as their material content is declining. Economic value is increasingly seen to reside in intangible assets, rather than material. This book explores the framework of 'I-Space' - a theoretical approach to the production and distribution of knowledge.
  9. Rethinking Epistemic Incentives: How Patient-Centered, Open Source Drug Discovery Generates More Valuable Knowledge Sooner.Alexandra Bradner - 2013 - Episteme 10 (4):417-439.
    Drug discovery traditionally has occurred behind closed doors in for-profit corporations hoping to develop best-selling medicines that recoup initial research investment, sustain marketing infrastructures, and pass on healthy returns to shareholders. Only corporate Pharma has the man- and purchasing-power to synthesize the thousands of molecules needed to find a new drug and to conduct the clinical trials that will make the drug legal. Against this view, individual physician-scientists have suggested that the promise of applied genomics work calls for a new (...)
  10. Chapter 7. The Peace Testimony of the Early American Moravians: An Ambiguous Witness.Peter Brock - 1969 - In Pacifism in the United States: From the Colonial Era to the First World War. Princeton University Press. pp. 285-330.
  11. Chapter 8. The Quaker Peace Testimony, 1783-1861.Peter Brock - 1969 - In Pacifism in the United States: From the Colonial Era to the First World War. Princeton University Press. pp. 333-388.
  12. Chapter 21. The Quaker Peace Testimony, 1865-1914.Peter Brock - 1969 - In Pacifism in the United States: From the Colonial Era to the First World War. Princeton University Press. pp. 869-888.
  13. Learning to Listen: Epistemic Injustice and the Child.Michael D. Burroughs & Deborah Tollefsen - 2016 - Episteme 13 (3):359-377.
    In Epistemic Injustice Miranda Fricker argues that there is a distinctively epistemic type of injustice in which someone is wronged specifically in his or her capacity as a knower. Fricker's examples of identity-prejudicial credibility deficit primarily involve gender, race, and class, in which individuals are given less credibility due to prejudicial stereotypes. We argue that children, as a class, are also subject to testimonial injustice and receive less epistemic credibility than they deserve. To illustrate the prevalence of testimonial injustice against (...)
  14. Personal Testimony.Rafael Caldera - 1972 - New Scholasticism 46 (1):10-17.
  15. Misrecognition and Knowledge.James G. Carrier - 1979 - Inquiry : An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 22 (1-4):321 – 342.
    Explanation and knowledge have traditionally been guided by and judged in terms of the ideal of the neutral reflection of reality. Kuhn's work on the sciences, and Bourdieu's and Kenneth Burke's discussions of knowledge and society, suggest that this ideal and the implicit epistemology that goes with it are in error. Their writings suggest instead that such an ideal masks the inadequacy of its own implicit epistemology by misrecognizing the effects of that inadequacy. That is, their writings suggest a sort (...)
  16. Faulkner, Paul, Knowledge on Trust.Carter J. Adam - unknown
  17. Faulkner, Paul, Knowledge on Trust.Carter J. Adam - unknown
  18. Testemunho, Doação E Tempo Do Projeto. Considerações Sobre Diamante de Sangue de Edward Zwick.Helena B. Catalão - 2013 - Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 69 (3-4):735-754.
    Resumo O filme Diamante de Sangue [Blood Diamond] de Edward Zwick oferece a possibilidade de uma reflexão à volta de três aspetos da noção de testemunho no âmbito da Filosofia da Religião: 1) a ideia de que o testemunho , enquanto matriz das culturas humanas, sustenta a atividade jornalística e a sociedade da informação possibilitando não apenas a sua desconstrução como também a atualização de uma dimensão testemunhal do jornalismo; 2) as condições de possibilidade da conversão da consciência, isto é, (...)
  19. A Critical Introduction to Testimony, by Axel Gelfert.David Coady - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (4):837-838.
  20. Two Concepts of Epistemic Injustice.David Coady - 2010 - Episteme 7 (2):101-113.
  21. II—Roger Crisp: Moral Testimony Pessimism: A Defence.Roger Crisp - 2014 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 88 (1):129-143.
  22. Commentary: Trauma and Testimony: Between Law and Discipline.Veena Das - 2007 - Ethos 35 (3):330-335.
  23. Epistemic Dependence.Francis W. Dauer - 1981 - Philosophical Topics 12 (3):53-58.
  24. The Cognitive Importance of Testimony.Jim Davies & David Matheson - 2012 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 16 (2):297-318.
    As a belief source, testimony has long been held by theorists of the mind to play a deeply important role in human cognition. It is unclear, however, just why testimony has been afforded such cognitive importance. We distinguish three suggestions on the matter: the number claim, which takes testimony’s cognitive importance to be a function of the number of beliefs it typically yields, relative to other belief sources; the reliability claim, which ties the importance of testimony to its relative truth-conduciveness; (...)
  25. The Influence of the Wording of Interrogatives on the Accuracy of Eyewitness Recollections.Janet Davis & H. R. Schiffman - 1985 - Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 23 (4):394-396.
  26. The Epistemology of Religious Testimony.Boudewijn de Bruin - 2013 - Philo 16 (1):95-111.
  27. Survivor or Expert? Some Thoughts on Being Both.Gill de la Cour - 2002 - In K. W. M. Fulford, Donna Dickenson & Thomas H. Murray (eds.), Healthcare Ethics and Human Values: An Introductory Text with Readings and Case Studies. Blackwell.
  28. Sanford Goldberg, Relying on Others. An Essay in Epistemology. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2010.Lorenz Demey - 2012 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 74 (1):160-163.
  29. From Testimony to History A Surprising Path for Meeting Chesterton.Vittoria Fiorelli - 2013 - The Chesterton Review 39 (3):355-356.
  30. Epistemic Authority, by Linda Zagzebski.Richard Fumerton - 2015 - Mind 124 (495):999-1003.
  31. What the Internalist Should Say to the Tortoise.Richard Fumerton - 2015 - Episteme 12 (2):209-217.
  32. Geheimnistrager - the Secret Bearers Testimony - Partner of Silence.Ruth Golan - 1998 - Analysis 8:122.
  33. Comments on Miranda Fricker's Epistemic Injustice.Sanford Goldberg - 2010 - Episteme 7 (2):138-150.
    Miranda Fricker's Epistemic Injustice is a wide-ranging and important book on a much-neglected topic: the injustice involved in cases in which distrust arises out of prejudice. Fricker has some important things to say about this sort of injustice: its nature, how it arises, what sustains it, and the unhappy outcomes associated with it for the victim and the society in which it takes place. In the course of developing this account, Fricker also develops an account of the epistemology of testimony. (...)
  34. Relying on Others: An Essay in Epistemology.Sanford Goldberg - 2010 - Oxford University Press.
    Sanford Goldberg investigates the role that others play in our attempts to acquire knowledge of the world.
  35. Discrimination and Testimonial Knowledge.John Greco - 2007 - Episteme: A Journal of Social Epistemology 4 (3):335-351.
  36. Budick, Sanford., Kant and Milton.Curtis Hancock - 2013 - Review of Metaphysics 66 (4):828-830.
  37. Transformative Experiences and Reliance on Moral Testimony.Elizabeth Harman - 2015 - Res Philosophica 92 (2):323-339.
  38. Towards Social Accounts of Testimonial Asymmetries.Allan Hazlett - 2017 - Noûs 51 (1):49–73.
  39. Evidence and Assurance.John Heil - 1984 - Philosophical Books 25 (1):60-63.
  40. Argument Against Ethicists'Testimony Logically Flawed.T. Patrick Hill - 2001 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 28 (s4):4-5.
  41. Evidence-Based Medical Knowledge: The Neglected Role of Expert Opinion.Jeannette Hofmeijer - 2014 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 20 (6):803-808.
  42. David Christensen and Jennifer Lackey, Eds., The Epistemology of Disagreement: New Essays. [REVIEW]Eugen Huzum - 2013 - Logos and Episteme 4 (4):467-468.
  43. Expert Testimony by Ethicists: What Should Be the Norm?Edward J. Imwinkelried - 2005 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 33 (2):198-221.
  44. Evidence: Appellate Court Dismisses Expert Testimony Under Daubert Standard.N. Jerabek - 1997 - Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 25 (1):73.
  45. Understanding, Grasping, and Luck.Kareem Khalifa - 2013 - Episteme 10 (1):1-17.
    Recently, it has been debated as to whether understanding is a species of explanatory knowledge. Those who deny this claim frequently argue that understanding, unlike knowledge, can be lucky. In this paper I argue that current arguments do not support this alleged compatibility between understanding and epistemic luck. First, I argue that understanding requires reliable explanatory evaluation, yet the putative examples of lucky understanding underspecify the extent to which subjects possess this ability. In the course of defending this claim, I (...)
  46. NATHAN, N. M. L. "Evidence and Assurance". [REVIEW]R. Kirk - 1981 - Mind 90:612.
  47. The Basis of Epistemic Trust: Reliable Testimony or Reliable Sources?Melissa A. Koenig & Paul L. Harris - 2007 - Episteme: A Journal of Social Epistemology 4 (3):264-284.
  48. Experts and Epistemic Monopolies.Roger Koppl & Steve Horwitz (eds.) - 2012 - Emerald Group Publishing.
    And if economists are themselves experts, what happens when we turn the skeptical gaze of economic theory on the economist herself? This volume publishes papers given at the third biennial Wirth Institute Conference on Austrian Economics.
  49. The Role of Reasons in Epistemology.Hilary Kornblith - 2015 - Episteme 12 (2):225-239.
  50. Testimony/Bearing Witness: Epistemology, Ethics, History and Culture.Sybille Krämer & Sigrid Weigel (eds.) - 2017 - Rowman & Littlefield International.
    Testimony/Bearing Witness establishes a dialogue between the different approaches to testimony in epistemology, historiography, law, art, media studies and psychiatry.
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