The reliability of testimony

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 61 (3):695-709 (2000)
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Are we entitled or justified in taking the word of others at face value? An affirmative answer to this question is associated with the views of Thomas Reid. Recently, C. A. J. Coady has defended a Reidian view in his impressive and influential book. Testimony: A Philosophical Study. His central and most Oliginal argument for his positions involves reflection upon the practice of giving and accepting reports, of making assertions and relying on the word of others. His argument purports to show that testimony is, by its very nature, a “reliable form of evidence about the way the world is.” The argument moves from what we do to why we are justified in doing it. Although I am sympathetic with both the Reidian view and Coady’s attempt to connect why we rely on others with why we are entitled to rely on others, I find Coady’s argument ineffective



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Peter Graham
University of California, Riverside

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