Download A Critical Introduction to Testimony by Axel Gelfert PDF

By Axel Gelfert

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

Covering latest literature and significant debates, A severe creation to Testimony discusses the epistemic prestige of testimony-based ideals, relates alterations to appropriate advancements in different parts and provides a serious point of view on present and destiny study tendencies. Devoting area to either the functions of social epistemology and the bigger conceptual problems with wisdom, Gelfert not just introduces the epistemology of testimony; he deals an updated advent to epistemology. outfitted with a mixture of examine questions, examples, and recommendations for extra interpreting, scholars of latest epistemology will locate this a competent advisor to learning testimony as a resource of knowledge.

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Extra resources for A Critical Introduction to Testimony

Example text

I ring up the company’s service number on being unable to locate my invoice, and an anonymous voice tells me the amount and when it is due. I simply accept this information, trusting that this is a valid way of ascertaining how much I need to pay: ‘No thought of determining the veracity and reliability of the witness occurs to me [. ] given that the total is within tolerable limits’ (Coady 1992: 143). But how simple is such ‘simple’ acceptance of testimony really? Arguably, I would not accept just any amount the anonymous voice tells me.

Both epistemic ‘moves’ – accepting what another tells us, or rejecting an interlocutor’s claim – are clearly appropriate in some situations and inappropriate in others. We should not accept just anything we are told, but neither should we deprive ourselves of opportunities to acquire knowledge by opting for a wholesale rejection of testimony. The problem of whether to accept or reject a given piece of testimony presents itself anew in every single case, and the demand that each case be settled on rational grounds can easily give rise to a host of competing considerations.

For example, even when interlocutors are in broad agreement on general moral principles – that ‘racism is wrong’, for example – they may differ in their judgements concerning what constitutes a case of racism. Deferring to the judgements of others, especially those who have suffered racist treatment (and whose experiences may have been excluded, precisely for this reason, from the majority view on what constitutes racism), may be a first step towards becoming better at identifying actual instances of morally blameworthy racism.

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