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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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Reid on the Credit of Human Testimony

Chapter:
(p.50) 2 Reid on the Credit of Human Testimony
Source:
The Epistemology of Testimony
Author(s):

James Van Cleve

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199276011.003.0003

This chapter explores the analogy proposed by Thomas Reid between testimony and sense perception. It begins by trying to arrive at a correct understanding of the two principles he identifies as fundamental to our acquiring information from others: the principles of veracity and credulity. Next, it investigates the similarities Reid finds between perception and testimony considered as mechanisms of belief formation. Finally, it investigates whether the analogy between perception and testimony can be extended from psychology into epistemology. In particular, it discusses whether beliefs based on testimony, like beliefs based on sense perception, may be regarded as epistemologically basic or foundational. It concludes that although Reid's answer is yes (testimonial fundamentalism), the correct answer is no (testimonial reductionism).

Keywords:   testimony, Thomas Reid, principle of veracity, principle of credulity, testimony with perception, testimonial reductionism, private language argument, Hume

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