Testimony, Observation, and the Reductive Approach

C. A. J. Coady

in Testimony

Published in print October 1994 | ISBN: 9780198235514
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597220 | DOI:
Testimony, Observation, and the Reductive Approach

Show Summary Details


Examines Hume's influential treatment of testimony in his essay ‘On Miracles’. Hume admits the importance of testimonial knowledge but argues that we are justified in relying on testimony as an epistemic ground because we can defend this reliance in terms of more basic recourse to observation and inductive inference. Coady argues that this reductive approach is flawed because, (1) it relies for its plausibility upon a communal understanding of observation that is already testimony loaded, (2) where observation is taken as individual observation the task of justifying the extent of our reliance is impossibly difficult, and (3) the very language in which the reductive project is framed already presupposes the broad reliability of testimony.

Keywords: Hume; inductive inference; Mackie; observation; reductionism; reliability; reports; testimonial knowledge; witness

Chapter.  11368 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.