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TestimonyA Philosophical Study$
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C. A. J. Coady

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198235514

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198235518.001.0001

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Testimony, Observation, and the Reductive Approach

Testimony, Observation, and the Reductive Approach

(p.79) 4 Testimony, Observation, and the Reductive Approach

C. A. J. Coady (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Examines Hume's influential treatment of testimony in his essay ‘On Miracles’. Hume admits the importance of testimonial knowledge but argues that we are justified in relying on testimony as an epistemic ground because we can defend this reliance in terms of more basic recourse to observation and inductive inference. Coady argues that this reductive approach is flawed because, (1) it relies for its plausibility upon a communal understanding of observation that is already testimony loaded, (2) where observation is taken as individual observation the task of justifying the extent of our reliance is impossibly difficult, and (3) the very language in which the reductive project is framed already presupposes the broad reliability of testimony.

Keywords:   Hume, inductive inference, Mackie, observation, reductionism, reliability, reports, testimonial knowledge, witness

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