Testimony

Testimony : A Philosophical Study

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Description

The role of testimony in the getting of reliable belief or knowledge is a central but neglected epistemological issue. Western philosophical tradition has paid scant attention to the individual thinker's reliance upon the word of others; yet we are in fact profoundly dependent on others for a vast amount of what any of us claims to know.

Professor Coady begins by exploring the nature and depth of our reliance upon testimony, addressing the complex definitional puzzles surrounding the idea. He analyses the tradition of debate on the topic in order to reveal the epistemic individualism which has given rise to an illusory ideal of `autonomous knowledge', and to gain a deeper understanding of the issues. He concludes this part of the book by showing what a feasible justification of testimony as a source of knowledge could be. In
the second half of the book the author uses this new view of testimony to challenge certain widespread assumptions in the fields of history, mathematics, psychology, and law.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 326 pages
  • 163 x 243 x 25mm | 726g
  • Clarendon Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • line figures
  • 0198247869
  • 9780198247869

Back cover copy

The role of testimony in the getting of reliable belief or knowledge is a central but neglected epistemological issue. Western philosophical tradition has paid scant attention to the individual thinker's reliance upon the word of others; yet this reliance is both extensive and often hidden from view. Professor Coady begins by exploring the nature and depth of our reliance upon testimony, addressing the complex definitional puzzles surrounding the idea. He analyses the tradition of debate on the topic in order to gain a deeper understanding of the issues and to reveal the epistemic individualism which has given rise to an illusory ideal of 'autonomous knowledge'. Avoiding such individualist commitments, he concludes this part of the book by providing a defence of testimony as a source of knowledge. In the second half of the book the author uses this new view of testimony to challenge certain widespread assumptions in the fields of history, mathematics, psychology, and law.
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Table of contents

I. The Problematic: The domain of testimony; What is testimony?; Objections and clarifications; II. The Tradition: Testimony, observation, and the reductive approach; Deciding for testimony; The analogical approach; Scottish fundamentalism; III. The Solution: The status of testimony; Language and mind; IV: The Puzzles: Astonishing reports; The disappearance of history; Dretske's drinker; V. The Applications: Collingwood and historical testimony; Mathematical
knowledge and reliable authority; Psychology and the law; Experts and the law
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Review quote

Coady's book is certainly the most complete treatment of the epistemological issues surrounding testimony currently in print ... those with some familiarity with epistemology will benefit greatly from his book. * Philosophia Christi Vol.1, No.1, 1999 * Coady's book constitutes a welcome return to this important subject * Philosophia Christi Vol.1, No.1, 1999 * the book is an important event in philosophy ... Coady's work should change the way we think about the nature and scope of human knowledge ... Coady has his answers to the standard problems. Read the book and judge it for yourselves ... excellent book. * The London Review of Books, November 1993 * In Testimony, Coady takes up the views of Plato, Augustine, Aquinas, Locke, Hume, Reid, Russell, Collingwood and H.H. Price for thorough critical examination ... Coady's book is immensely rich in details drawn from legal theory and practice, applied psychology and the history of science, as well as the philosophy of knowledge and language. * Times Literary Supplement * the first thorough philosophical treatment of testimony ... Coady sheds much light on the widely neglected topic of testimony. He draws important distinctions regarding testimony without being pedantic, and exercises caution when facing powerful sceptical challenges. Epistemologists and others can benefit from Coady's wide-ranging treatment of testimony. * P.K. Moser, Loyola University of Chicago, Choice, Jan '93 * C.A.J. Coady has written a rare book that will repay careful study by anyone in the field of religious studies since its subject matter is not only basic but also, as his shows, as little understood as it is widely misunderstood ... Coady breaks new ground in helping us understand the importance of testimony for ascertaining contingent truth. His work encourages similar care regarding such metaphysical or necessary existential truths as there may be. Students of
religion have a good deal to learn from Coady's work on testimony. * The Journal of Religion, July 1993 * This is a valuable book, a thorough and systematic study of a much neglected subject which ought really to be near the centre of epistemological concern. All in all this is an excellent, trail-blazing book on an important subject. It ranges widely. It is well written in a good accessible style and it is nicely produced with very few misprints. * The Philosophical Quarterly, January 1994 * This meticulously argued but rather leisurely paced book fills an important gap in the epistemological literature by taking seriously a fundamental source of human knowledge - testimony ... Coady's book surely promises to be the standard work on the philosophy of testimony and its applications for a good many years to come. * E.J. Lowe, Philosophy, July 1993 * wide-ranging and important philosophical study ... Coady's discussion throughout the book is lively; it draws on material and highly engaging issues from a rich and varied background. * Sydney Law Review * Everyone interested philosophically in human knowledge should read Tony Coady's book, Testimony. * The Australian, Feb 1994 *
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Rating details

9 ratings
4.33 out of 5 stars
5 44% (4)
4 44% (4)
3 11% (1)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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