Archives For Testimony

Ben Almassi, Governors State University, balmassi@govst.edu

Almassi, Ben. “Comments on Tim Kenyon’s ‘Oral History and the Epistemology of Testimony’.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 12 (2015): 56-61.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2×0

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oral_history

Image credit: OSU Special Collections & Archives, via flickr

Tim Kenyon’s “Oral History and the Epistemology of Testimony” reminds us that social epistemologists do themselves a disservice when neglecting to engage with scholarship on testimony outside philosophy narrowly construed. Oral historians, for one, are well versed in the power and perils of using testimony in wissenschaft. Kenyon argues not simply that social epistemologists should recognize the expertise of oral historians (among other scholars) on testimony, but further, that the analyses and uses of testimony in oral historiography have both negative and positive lessons for epistemologists of testimony today.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Jeremy Fantl, University of Calgary, jfantl@ucalgary.ca

Fantl, Jeremy. “Interest-Relativity and Testimony.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 11 (2015): 40-46.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2tz

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court_room

Image credit: smilla4, via flickr

In her “Testimony and Epistemic Risk: The Dependence Account”, Karyn Freedman defends an interest-relative account of justified belief and suggests that the account can contribute to literature on testimony. According to her interest-relative account, your interests in whether p is true can make a difference to whether you justifiedly believe that proposition. Freedman distinguishes her account from earlier versions by allowing a distinctive role for emotional interests and how much we care about whether p is true. [1]  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Rebecca Kukla, Georgetown University, rkukla@gmail.com

Kukla, Rebecca. “A Further Look at Standards of Justification.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 9 (2015): 63-65.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2j7

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justify

Image credit: Thomas Hawk, via flickr

Karyn Freedman (2015a, b) and I agree that standards of justification are interest-relative: How much evidence a belief requires in order to count as justified depends in part on the believer’s investment in being right, or the size of the epistemic risk she takes on in believing. We also agree that in the case of beliefs acquired through testimony, this interest-relativity affects whether someone’s word is enough to count as a justification. Across a few exchanges, we have disagreed over the consequences of this interest-relativity of testimonial knowledge.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Fabien Medvecky, University of Otago, fabien.medvecky@otgao.ac.nz

Medvecky, Fabien. “Knowing From Others: A Review of Knowledge on Trust and A Critical Introduction to Testimony.Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 9 (2015): 11-12.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2gD

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Image Credit: Oxford University Press; Bloomsbury Academic

A Critical Introduction to Testimony
Axel Gelfert
Bloomsbury, 2014
264 pp.

Knowledge on Trust
Paul Faulkner
Oxford University Press, 2011
240 pp.

If you are hungry for some reading on testimonial epistemology—the study of knowledge created and gained through testimony—then Axel Gelfert’s introductory text, A Critical Introduction to Testimony (2014), sits as a perfect entrée to Paul Faulkner’s Knowledge on Trust (2011). Both are well written and both are aimed at philosophers, though they are very different in style. While Gelfert’s volume is clearly aimed as an upper undergraduate or postgraduate philosophy course text, presenting the reader with a good overview of the field, Faulkner’s work delves into more specificity as it develops a rich theory of how we acquire new knowledge as a result of testimony. And while I am sympathetic to Faulkner’s views on the role of trust as the foundation for testimonial knowledge, I think his discussion on trust is a little quick.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Karyn L. Freedman, University of Guelph, karynf@uoguelph.ca

Freedman, Karyn L. “Group Accountability Versus Justified Belief: A Reply to Kukla.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 7 (2015): 6-12.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2a0

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roger_federer

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I am grateful to Rebecca Kukla (2014) for her generous and fair reading of my “Testimony and Epistemic Risk: The Dependence Account”. My concern in that paper is with the central epistemic question regarding the normative requirements for beliefs based on testimony; that is, whether a hearer has an epistemic right to believe what she is told in the absence of any evidence about the reliability of a speaker. An interest-relative theory of justification is my answer to this question. I argue that beliefs based on testimony require evidence for justification, but how much evidence is needed, in any given case, depends on the hearer and the epistemic risk she takes in believing that p is true. In other words, the evidential burden that an individual must meet in order to be justified in believing that p depends on how important it is for her that p is true, given her interest in p. The more she cares about p, the more evidence needed to justify her belief that p.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Rebecca Kukla, Georgetown University, rk75@georgetown.edu

Kukla, Rebecca. “Commentary on Karyn Freedman, ‘Testimony and Risk: The Dependence Account’” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 11 (2014): 46-52.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-1If

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 Bars_Black_Yellow Image credit: Mike Kniec, via flickr

In “Testimony and Epistemic Risk: The Dependence Account,” Karyn Freedman argues that in the case of testimonial knowledge, “Justification is an interest-relative relation” (4). Specifically, the more ‘epistemic risk’ an agent takes on in believing a report that p, the more evidence she needs in order for the belief to be justified, where her epistemic risk depends on how much it matters, given her interests, values, and needs, if she is wrong. The less an agent has at stake in something being true, the lower the evidence bar for justification. Thus “Justification depends on evidence and how much evidence is needed, in each case, depends on the interests of the hearer” (14). Indeed, Freedman argues that all beliefs work this way, whether or not they are testimonially derived; testimonial evidence just offers more opportunities for epistemic risk than usual. Continue Reading…