Take it from me: The epistemological status of testimony

Abstract

Testimony consists in imparting information without supplying evidence or argument to back one's claims. To what extent does testimony convey epistemic warrant? C. J. A. Coady argues, on Davidsonian grounds, that (1) most testimony is true, hence (2) most testimony supplies warrant sufficient for knowledge. I appeal to Grice's maxims to undermine Coady's argument and to show that the matter is more complicated and context-sensitive than is standardly recognized. Informative exchanges take place within networks of shared, tacit assumptions that affect the scope and strength of our claims, and the level of warrant required for their responsible assertion. The maxims explain why different levels of warrant are transferred in different contexts

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Catherine Elgin
Harvard University

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Citations of this work

Second-Hand Knowledge.Elizabeth Fricker - 2006 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 73 (3):592–618.
Group Assertion.Jennifer Lackey - 2018 - Erkenntnis 83 (1):21-42.
Epistemological Problems of Testimony.Jonathan E. Adler - 2006 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Nature of Testimony.Jennifer Lackey - 2006 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 87 (2):177–197.
Testimony and the Infant/Child Objection.Jennifer Lackey - 2005 - Philosophical Studies 126 (2):163-190.

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