Learning from Words

Analysis 69 (3):572-574 (2009)
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Abstract

While much of our knowledge relies on testimony or the words of others, until recently few philosophers had much to say about the nature of testimony or how we learn from another's words, but testimony has now become a popular topic. Jennifer Lackey's Learning from Words: Testimony as a Source of Knowledge is a useful and intelligent guide, a well informed and appreciative but critical and provocative commentary on a large and growing body of literature.According to Lackey, most of the literature assumes that testimony can spread but not create knowledge, much as memory can be a reminder of old but not a source of new truth. Lackey maintains that the assumption is mistaken and offers an account of testimony, according to which, testimony can give rise to new knowledge as well as transmit old truths from one person to another.In her introduction, Lackey characterizes what she calls the belief view of testimony and suggests that this view dominates today's literature. On the belief view, testimony is a vehicle for expressing belief, and when I tell you that p, I express my belief that p with the intention …

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Jennifer Lackey
Northwestern University

Citations of this work

Criticism and Blame in Action and Assertion.Christoph Kelp & Mona Simion - 2017 - Journal of Philosophy 114 (2):76-93.
Epistemic Authority.Christoph Jäger - 2024 - In Jennifer Lackey & Aidan McGlynn (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Social Epistemology. Oxford University Press.
On Telling and Trusting.Paul Faulkner - 2007 - Mind 116 (464):875-902.
Is Memory Merely Testimony from One's Former Self?David James Barnett - 2015 - Philosophical Review 124 (3):353-392.
How to be an anti-reductionist.Mona Simion & Christoph Kelp - 2020 - Synthese 197 (7):2849-2866.

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