Learning from Words
Testimony as a Source of Knowledge
By (author) Jennifer Lackey
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Learning from Words by Jennifer Lackey
Book DescriptionTestimony is an invaluable source of knowledge. We rely on the reports of those around us for everything from the ingredients in our food and medicine to the identity of our family members. Recent years have seen an explosion of interest in the epistemology of testimony. Despite the multitude of views offered, a single thesis is nearly universally accepted: testimonial knowledge is acquired through the process of transmission from speaker to hearer. In this book, Jennifer Lackey shows that this thesis is false and, hence, that the literature on testimony has been shaped at its core by a view that is fundamentally misguided. She then defends a detailed alternative to this conception of testimony: whereas the views currently dominant focus on the epistemic status of what speakers believe, Lackey advances a theory that instead centers on what speakers say. The upshot is that, strictly speaking, we do not learn from one another's beliefs - we learn from one another's words. Once this shift in focus is in place, Lackey goes on to argue that, though positive reasons are necessary for testimonial knowledge, testimony itself is an irreducible epistemic source. This leads to the development of a theory that gives proper credence to testimony's epistemologically dual nature: both the speaker and the hearer must make a positive epistemic contribution to testimonial knowledge. The resulting view not only reveals that testimony has the capacity to generate knowledge, but it also gives appropriate weight to our nature as both socially indebted and individually rational creatures. The approach found in this book will, then, represent a radical departure from the views currently dominating the epistemology of testimony, and thus is intended to reshape our understanding of the deep and ubiquitous reliance we have on the testimony of those around us.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780199219162
(242mm x 163mm x 23mm)
Imprint: Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publish Date: 28-Feb-2008
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
Books By Author Jennifer Lackey
Essays in Collective Epistemology, Paperback (December 2016)
We often talk about groups believing, knowing, and testifying. Epistemic claims of this sort are of significant consequence, given that they bear on the moral and legal responsibilities of collective entities. A team of leading experts in the field present new, cutting edge theories, insights, and approaches in collective epistemology.
Epistemology of Disagreement, Paperback (January 2016)
This is a collective study of the epistemic significance of disagreement: twelve contributors explore rival responses to the problems that it raises for philosophy. They develop our understanding of epistemic phenomena that are central to any thoughtful engagement with others' beliefs.
Learning from Words, Paperback (March 2010)
Jennifer Lackey reshapes the vigorous current debate on testimony by showing that the standard view of the transmission of knowledge by testimony is fundamentally misguided. Her radical new theory holds that testimony is itself an irreducible source of new knowledge, to which both speaker and hearer contribute.
Biography of Wheat, Paperback (September 2007)» View all books by Jennifer Lackey
The growing of wheat as a staple food source made permanent settlements possible, particularly for settlers moving West. This book teaches how one of the world's most important food crops is grown, harvested, sold, and processed. It is for ages 7-14.
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Author Biography - Jennifer Lackey
Jennifer Lackey is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University.
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