Testimony: Evidence and Responsibility

Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh (2003)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Testimony is an indispensable way of gaining knowledge and also a voluntary act for which the teller can be held responsible. This dissertation analyzes these two aspects of testimony, the epistemological and the normative. Indeed, it argues that these two aspects cannot be separated: A satisfactory account of testimony's epistemology must allow for testimony's normative status, while an account of testimony's normative status can be derived from testimony's epistemology. ;Epistemologically, the general reliability of testimony should be treated differently from the reliability of particular pieces of testimony. We are justified in believing that testimony is generally reliable, without needing evidence to that effect. This avoids the problems that would arise from attempting to gather evidence for testimony's general reliability. Particular pieces of testimony, however, can only provide a justification for belief by providing evidence for what is told. This view about particular pieces of testimony faces the problem of how the teller can present her testimony as evidence while accepting responsibility for it, and how the hearer can take testimony as evidence while holding the hearer responsible for it. ;To solve this problem, I give an account, based on inference to the best explanation, of the specific way testimony provides evidence for what is told. To see testimony as evidence for what is told, we must explain it in terms of the reasons people have for choosing to say one thing rather than another. On this account, the evidence that testimony provides depends on the teller's choice to assume responsibility for her testimony, rather than precluding that assumption of responsibility. ;On the other hand, the epistemology of testimony imposes certain norms on the act of telling someone something. The teller is responsible for the truth of her testimony, in that she stakes her future credibility on its truth. Loss of credibility would count as a sanction for violating the responsibility to tell the truth, because a teller ordinarily intends her testimony to be believed. This responsibility to tell the truth is derived from the epistemology of testimony



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 89,446

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Testimony, knowledge, and epistemic goals.Steven L. Reynolds - 2002 - Philosophical Studies 110 (2):139 - 161.
Testimony as a Social Foundation of Knowledge.Robert Audi - 2011 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87 (3):507-531.
Testimony from a Popperian perspective.Antoni Diller - 2008 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 38 (4):419-456.
The nature of testimony.Jennifer Lackey - 2006 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 87 (2):177–197.
English Law's Epistemology of Expert Testimony.Tony Ward - 2006 - Journal of Law and Society 33 (4):572-595.
Aesthetic testimony: What can we learn from others about beauty and art?Aaron Meskin - 2004 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 69 (1):65–91.
Accepting testimony.By Matthew Weiner - 2003 - Philosophical Quarterly 53 (211):256–264.


Added to PP

129 (#128,278)

6 months
4 (#308,946)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Matt Weiner
University of Vermont

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references