Typing testimony

Synthese 199 (3-4):9463-9477 (2021)
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This paper argues that as a name for a speech act, epistemologists typically use ‘testimony’ in a specialist sense that is more or less synonymous with ‘assertion’, but as a name for a distinctive speech act type in ordinary English, ‘testimony’ names a unique confirmative speech act type. Hence, like any good English word, ‘testimony’ has more than one sense. The paper then addresses the use of ‘testimony’ in epistemology to denote a distinctive kind of evidence: testimonial evidence. Standing views of a hearer’s testimonial evidence see it as partly supervening on a speaker’s assertion that P. The paper argues for a broader account that sees a hearer’s testimonial evidence as partly supervening instead on the hearer’s representation as of a speaker meaning that P. This broader account is the comprehension view of testimonial evidence. The upshot is that not all so-called “testimony-based beliefs” are caused by a speaker’s testimony.



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Peter Graham
University of California, Riverside

Citations of this work

Testimony is not disjunctive.Peter J. Graham - 2022 - Asian Journal of Philosophy 1 (1):1-18.

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References found in this work

Logic and Conversation.H. P. Grice - 1975 - In Donald Davidson & Gilbert Harman (eds.), The Logic of Grammar. Encino, CA: pp. 64-75.
Testimony: a philosophical study.C. A. J. Coady - 1992 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Content preservation.Tyler Burge - 1993 - Philosophical Review 102 (4):457-488.
Getting told and being believed.Richard Moran - 2005 - Philosophers' Imprint 5:1-29.

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