Testimony is not disjunctive


Jennifer Lackey argues that “testimony” in philosophy has one sense, but that sense—the concept expressed—is disjunctive. One disjunct she calls speaker-testimony and the other disjunct she calls hearer-testimony. A speaker then testifies simpliciter iff the speaker either speaker-testifies or hearer-testifies. Inadequate views of testimony, she argues, fail to recognize, distinguish and then disjoin these two “aspects” of testimony. I argue that her view about the semantics of “testimony” is mistaken and that her criticisms of two other views—mine included —are ineffective. I argue that instead of one disjunctive concept, the word “testimony” expresses more than one concept; “testimony” means many things. In ordinary English, it names two distinct kinds of constative speech acts. In epistemology, it gets used a synonym for “assertion”. In epistemology, it also refers to the process whereby we form beliefs on the basis of comprehending assertions—to communication or interlocution.

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Peter Graham
University of California, Riverside

References found in this work

Testimony: A Philosophical Study.C. A. J. Coady - 1992 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Knowledge in Perspective: Selected Essays in Epistemology.Ernest Sosa - 1991 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Against Gullibility.Elizabeth Fricker - 1994 - In A. Chakrabarti & B. K. Matilal (eds.), Knowing from Words. Kluwer Academic Publishers.

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