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Learning from Words: Testimony as a Source of Knowledge 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199575619
ISBN-10: 0199575614
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Review from previous edition: "Lackey writes in an exceedingly lucid fashion throughout . . . Surely, analytic philosophers working on testimony have a professional obligation to read Lackey's work, if not to assess her provocative claim that they are all headed in the wrong direction, then to assimilate her valuable reflections on the issues with which they are concerned. But the book should also hold some interest for epistemologists thinking about related matters." --Aaron Z. Zimmerman, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

About the Author

Jennifer Lackey is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (May 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199575614
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199575619
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.8 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,554,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jennifer Lackey presents some novel views concerning testimony. She drifts away from the common conception of the epistemology of testimony where testimony is a transmissive source of knowledge. This means that an informant must possess a relevant belief to pass on to an information-seeker. If that belief is justified/warranted then the belief the information-seeker forms is known. Yet, Lackey argues this is not the case. Testimony can be a generative source of knowledge. Beliefs are relevant to testimony only if it makes someone "a competent testifier." It isn't the belief that is necessarily important, it is the reliable statement that is epistemically important.

While the above "statement view" is relevant for the epistemology of testimony, Lackey also presents a view that is relevant for the metaphysics of testimony. This is the "disjunctive view." Many advocate a view of testimony that places a huge role on the informant. Lackey concedes that there is also an instance of testimony where the emphasis is on the information-seeker. For instance, when a historian finds a diary full of information relevant for their purposes, we would say the beliefs formed by the historian are testimonial-based, even though the writer of the diary never intended to be an epistemic source to the historian.

Lackey's views press the competing views and allow us to extend our conception of testimony to a much broader view, especially to the one we might think of in legal settings. This is a must read for anyone interested in this topic.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Good book, with a clear and detailed analysis of the popular transmission theory of testimonial knowledge. It also develops some persuasive counterarguments worth studying (not to mention the positive alternative sketched).
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