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By Axel Gelfert

The epistemology of testimony is a speedily constructing zone in modern analytic philosophy. during this first thorough survey of the new debate at the topic, Axel Gelfert offers an in-depth advent to what has turn into one of many liveliest debates in modern epistemology.

Covering latest literature and significant debates, A serious creation to Testimony discusses the epistemic prestige of testimony-based ideals, relates adjustments to proper advancements in different components and gives a severe viewpoint on present and destiny examine tendencies. 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 bargains an up to date creation to epistemology. built with a mixture of examine questions, examples, and recommendations for extra analyzing, scholars of latest epistemology will locate this a competent consultant to learning testimony as a resource of knowledge.

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Extra resources for A Critical Introduction to Testimony

Sample text

When it comes to perceptual beliefs, we seem to be hard-wired to accept (most of) them as true: we cannot, as a general rule, not believe our own eyes. Finally, most human beings exhibit some degree of curiosity: quite apart from specific practical interests, we enjoy acquiring beliefs about the world and strive to keep abreast with developments in various areas of life that we take an interest in. We are thus constantly faced with the challenge of having to balance our interest in the acquisition of relevant new beliefs against the need to filter out false or misleading information and to monitor our corpus of beliefs for inconsistencies and unresolved tensions.

And is directed to those who are in need of evidence on the matter. (Coady 1992: 42) Although explicitly put forward as a definition of ‘natural testimony’, intended to capture ‘the conventions governing the speech act of testifying’, the narrow view remains indebted to formal conceptions of testimony – not least by assimilating testimony to the (legal) category of ‘evidence’. Talk of ‘evidence’ suggests that an objective relationship of support must exist, or must at least be presumed by the hearer to hold, between the act of stating that p and it actually being the case that p.

If testimony is understood as a source of empirical knowledge only, this would rule out certain kinds of testimonial content. Thus, Immanuel Kant, though broadly sympathetic to testimony as a source of empirical knowledge, categorically rules out purported supernatural testimony: ‘The assent of a testimonial is always something empirical; and the person whom I am supposed to believe on the basis of his testimony must be an object of experience’ (Kant 1993: 61). Not only must the content be empirical, but the source, too, must at least in principle be of a kind that we could learn about from experience.

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