On Testimony, Sincerity and Truth

Paragraph 30 (1):30-50 (2007)
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Abstract

In much recent cultural theory there has been a noticeable turn to testimonial discourse, perhaps especially in the context of finding ways of bearing witness to human suffering, tragedy and trauma.While this shift toward allowing others to speak ‘in the first person’ provides an important and powerful methodological tool, appealing to first-person testimony is also a hazardous enterprise. Drawing on a number of disparate philosophers and writers, in this article I explore some of the central epistemological and ethical problems surrounding testimony. More specifically, I argue that the distinction between truth and sincerity is of fundamental importance here, and as such any unreflective methodological reliance on testimonial discourse is at best misconceived, at worst irresponsible.

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Bob Plant
University of Aberdeen (PhD)

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References found in this work

The civic religion of social hope: A reply to Simon Critchley.Mark Dooley - 2001 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 27 (5):35-58.
The civic religion of social hope: A response to Simon Critchley.Dooley Mark - 2001 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 27 (5):35-58.
The Confessing Animal in Foucault and Wittgenstein.Bob Plant - 2006 - Journal of Religious Ethics 34 (4):533-559.

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