A Critical Introduction to Testimony by Axel Gelfert

By Axel Gelfert

The epistemology of testimony is a quickly constructing sector in modern analytic philosophy. during this first thorough survey of the hot debate at the topic, Axel Gelfert offers an in-depth creation to what has develop into one of many liveliest debates in modern epistemology.

Covering present literature and significant debates, A serious creation to Testimony discusses the epistemic prestige of testimony-based ideals, relates alterations to proper advancements in different parts and gives a severe standpoint on present and destiny examine developments. Devoting house to either the purposes of social epistemology and the bigger conceptual problems with wisdom, Gelfert not just introduces the epistemology of testimony; he deals an updated creation to epistemology. outfitted with a mixture of research questions, examples, and proposals for additional analyzing, scholars of up to date epistemology will locate this a competent consultant to learning testimony as a resource of knowledge.

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The first approach, which has been dubbed the Moderate View of Testimony (Lackey 2006a: 184), is due to Peter Graham (1997). ] S testifies by making some statement p if and only if (1) S ’s stating that p is offered as evidence that p (2) S intends that his audience believe that he has the relevant competence, authority or credentials to state truly that p (3) S ’s statement that p is believed by S to be relevant to some question that he believes is disputed or unresolved (which may or may not be p) and is directed at those whom he believes to be in need of evidence on the matter.

And even if, by luck or through sheer determination, the user could identify the corresponding entry in a page’s history, more often than not she would find a pseudonymous user name or, quite possibly, an IP address – neither of which contains much information about the epistemic credentials of the user who edited the page. This contrasts sharply with the more standard case of testimony that is uniquely attributable to its originators. A related distinction concerns official versus unofficial testimony.

This feature is its essential commonability: the fact that it can be collectively shared. As Welbourne puts it: ‘Knowledge is not, as a belief necessarily is, the unique possession of an individual; rather it is a thing which may be available to anybody’ (1986: 6). If we were to think of the communication of knowledge merely in terms of the duplication of the speaker’s belief in the mind of the hearer, we would be missing an important difference between the two: If you and I both believe that p, then there are two beliefs, yours and mine.

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