Chapter

The Nature of Testimony

Jennifer Lackey

in Learning from Words

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780199219162
Published online May 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780191711824 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199219162.003.0002
The Nature of Testimony

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This chapter discusses various views of the nature of testimony found in philosophical literature and shows how each has importantly different problems. A diagnosis is then offered of why the disagreement over the nature of testimony is so deep — specifically, it is argued that the concept of testimony has two distinct and often independent aspects to it. On the one hand, speaker testimony involves an intentional act on the part of the speaker while, on the other hand, hearer testimony picks out a source of belief or knowledge for the hearer. Inadequate views of testimony, it is argued, result either from collapsing these two aspects into a single account or from a failure to recognize one of them. Finally, an alternative, disjunctive view of the nature of testimony is offered that adequately captures these two independent aspects, and provides the basis for an illuminating theory of testimony's epistemological significance.

Keywords: disjunctive view; hearer testimony; intentional act; knowledge; nature of testimony; source of knowledge; speaker testimony

Chapter.  11054 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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