Colloquium: Feb 9th18

Speaker: Tim Kenyon, Brock University

Title: Phenomena and theory in the epistemology of testimony

Friday, February 9th at 2:30pm CLE A303


An astonishing proportion of articles and books in the epistemology of testimony begin with a statement emphasizing the extent to which our knowledge – ordinary, specialized, scientific, mundane – depends on testimony. Yet much of the literature ends up theorizing testimony as a rarefied class of core cases, with as few as zero actual cases of the purest uncontaminated phenomenon. How do we get from testimony as the source of great swathes of our actual knowledge to testimony as a rare or ideal case? How would the epistemology of testimony and social epistemology more generally look if we declined this idealizing approach? I discuss some competing explanatory aims that underlie the epistemology of testimony, and argue that what’s often idealized away from testimony in an attempt to isolate the core phenomenon is itself the core phenomenon. Taking this view, I argue, enables an epistemology of testimony that is more clearly continuous with related phenomena like structured ignorance and epistemic injustice.