Authors
Axel Gelfert
Technische Universität Berlin
Abstract
Among contemporary epistemologists of testimony, David Hume is standardly regarded as a "global reductionist", where global reductionism requires the hearer to have sufficient first-hand knowledge of the facts in order to individually ascertain the reliability of the testimony in question. In the present paper, I argue that, by construing Hume's reductionism in too individualistic a fashion, the received view of Hume on testimony is inaccurate at best, and misleading at worst. Hume's overall position is more amenable to testimonial acceptance than has traditionally been thought. In particular, Hume believes that indirect evidence of human nature and of the social world around us, can take the place of first-hand evidence of the track record of individual speakers or specific classes of testimony. In developing this interpretation of Hume's views on testimony, the present paper draws on discussions found in the Treatise, the Enquiry, and in Hume's writings on historical knowledge.
Keywords Hume  reductionism  testimony  human nature  historical knowledge
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References found in this work BETA

Testimony: A Philosophical Study.C. A. J. Coady - 1992 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Against Gullibility.Elizabeth Fricker - 1994 - In A. Chakrabarti & B. K. Matilal (eds.), Knowing from Words. Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Testimony: A Philosophical Study.C. A. J. Coady - 1992 - Philosophy 68 (265):413-415.
Hume's Reason.David Owen - 1999 - Oxford, England and New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
An Inquiry Into the Human Mind.Thomas Reid - 1813 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Epistemological Problems of Testimony.Jonathan E. Adler - 2006 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Hume on Curiosity.Axel Gelfert - 2013 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 21 (4):711-732.

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