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The Epistemology of Testimony$
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Jennifer Lackey and Ernest Sosa

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199276011

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199276011.001.0001

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Pathologies of Testimony

Pathologies of Testimony

(p.253) 11 Pathologies of Testimony
The Epistemology of Testimony

C. A. J. Coady (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Given that testimony is a fundamental and fundamentally reliable source of information, having a status akin to perception and memory in our fabric of understanding, then questions arise about how to comprehend those categories of testimony that seem inherently misleading. Some of these are the ‘pathologies of testimony’ discussed in this chapter: gossip, rumour, and urban myth. It is argued that philosophers have paid insufficient attention to the phenomenology of these three and that what has been said suffers from certain defects. The chapter explores both the conceptual structure of gossip, rumour, and urban myth, and the social and moral significance that they have. It concludes with comment on the epistemic value (and dis-value) of such pathologies.

Keywords:   pathologies of testimony, gossip, rumour, urban myth, epistemic value

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