A Critical Introduction to Testimony

Bloomsbury Publishing
Free sample

The epistemology of testimony is a rapidly developing area in contemporary analytic philosophy. In this first thorough survey of the recent debate on the subject, Axel Gelfert provides an in-depth introduction to what has become one of the liveliest debates in contemporary epistemology.

Covering existing literature and major debates, A Critical Introduction to Testimony discusses the epistemic status of testimony-based beliefs, relates changes to relevant developments in other areas and offers a critical perspective on current and future research trends. Devoting space to both the applications of social epistemology and the larger conceptual issues of knowledge, Gelfert not only introduces the epistemology of testimony; he offers an up-to-date introduction to epistemology. Equipped with a mix of study questions, examples, and suggestions for further reading, students of contemporary epistemology will find this a reliable guide to studying testimony as a source of knowledge.
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About the author

Axel Gelfert is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy, National University of Singapore.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Bloomsbury Publishing
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Published on
Jul 31, 2014
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Pages
264
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ISBN
9781472569981
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Epistemology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Much of what we know is acquired by taking things on the word of other people whom we trust and treat as authorities concerning what to believe. But what exactly is it to take someone's word for something? What is it to treat another as an authority concerning what to believe, and what is it to then trust this person for the truth? In Testimony, Trust, and Authority, Benjamin McMyler argues that philosophers have failed to appreciate the nature and significance of our epistemic dependence on the word of others. What others tell us is the case-their testimony, as philosophers use the term-provides us with a reason for belief that is fundamentally unlike the kind of reason for belief provided by other kinds of impersonal evidence. Unlike a footprint in the snow or a bloody knife left at the scene of a crime, a speaker's testimony provides an audience with what McMyler calls a second-personal reason for belief, a reason for belief that serves to parcel out epistemic responsibility for the belief interpersonally between speaker and audience. Testimony, Trust, and Authority is the most developed articulation and defense of an interpersonal theory of the epistemology of testimony yet to appear. It explains how this position relates to the historical development of philosophical questions about testimony, draws out what is at stake between this position and other competing positions in the contemporary epistemological literature on testimony, highlights and clarifies what is so controversial about this position, and shows how this position connects to broader philosophical issues concerning trust, the second person, and the role of authority in both theoretical and practical rationality. It will be of interest not only to specialists in epistemology but to anyone interested in the nature and significance of human sociality.
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