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Crane, Susan A., , . Choosing Not to Look: Representation, Repatriation, and Holocaust Atrocity Photography
2008, History and Theory 47: 309-30.
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Added by: Erich Hatala Matthes, Contributed by:

Summary: In this article, Crane, a historian, questions whether Holocaust atrocity photographs should be displayed, arguing that displaying them is not the best means of historical education about the horrors of the Holocaust, as some defenders argue. Her discussion includes reflections on the nature of photography, spectacle, how we look at images, and pedagogy surrounding historical injustices.

Comment: This text offers an opportunity to discuss the display of "negative heritage," and so offers a different angle than many of the articles on heritage which focus on appropriative display of more traditionally conceived heritage objects. The article also raises issues which can inspire discussion on moral criticism of art.

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Dotson, Kristie, , . Tracking Epistemic Violence, Tracking Practices of Silencing
2011, Hypatia 26 (2):236-257.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Naomi Beecroft, Emily Dyson

Abstract: Too often, identifying practices of silencing is a seemingly impossible exercise. Here I claim that attempting to give a conceptual reading of the epistemic violence present when silencing occurs can help distinguish the different ways members of oppressed groups are silenced with respect to testimony. I offer an account of epistemic violence as the failure, owing to pernicious ignorance, of hearers to meet the vulnerabilities of speakers in linguistic exchanges. Ultimately, I illustrate that by focusing on the ways in which hearers fail to meet speaker dependency in a linguistic exchange, efforts can be made to demarcate the different types of silencing people face when attempting to testify from oppressed positions in society.

Comment: This text provides an alternative framework to epistemic injustice and focuses on the positionality of black women. It encourages thought about (certain kinds of) ignorance as specific harms to others. This would suit an undergraduate class who were looking at race, gender, and/or applied epistemologies.

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Fricker, Elizabeth, , . Against Gullibility
1994, In: Matilals, Bimal K. & Chakrabarti, A. (eds.), Knowing from Words: Western and Indian philosophical analysis of understanding and testimony. Kluwer. 125-161
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Summary: This paper refutes the PR thesis according to which the hearer has such a special presumptive right to trust the speaker’s assertion. The refutation consists of 1) arguing against that it is not possible for a hearer to obtain independent confirmation that a given speaker is trustworthy – that what she says will be true; 2) a full rejection to various positive arguments for a PR which may be made.

Comment: This paper defends anti-reductionism by refuting arguments for reductionism. It is useful paper for teachings on testimony in a upper-level undergraduate course on epistemology.

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Fricker, Elizabeth, , . Epistemic Trust in Oneself and Others – and Argument from Analogy?
2014, in Laura Frances Callahan & Timothy O'Connor (eds.) Religious Faith and Intellectual Virtue. Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by:

Abstract: Richard Foley and others have recently argued that there is an a priori connection between rational trust in one’s own faculties to rational trust of other human persons. This chapter argues, to the contrary, that we must instead establish through empirical observation which others are to be trusted and under which circumstances – there is no rational presumption of the trustworthiness of others. Hence, insofar as one’s religious beliefs are based on trust in the testimony of others, rationality requires that one assess the credentials of those whom one trusts.

Comment: A great primary reading for a religious epistemology course, or otherwise a great secondary reading for a more general philosophy of religion course, for a unit on Faith. If being used as a primary reading, it could be good to ask students to explain whether and why they agree that religious beliefs are based on trust in the testimony of others - and, if they do agree, whether this is problematic? What other (non-religious) cases can they think of where our beliefs are based on trust in the testimony of others?

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Lackey, Jennfer, , . Testimonial knowledge and transmission
1999, Philosophical Quarterly 50 (197): 471-490.
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Added by: Jie Gao, Contributed by:

Abstract: We often talk about knowledge being transmitted via testimony. This suggests a picture of testimony with striking similarities to memory. For instance, it is often assumed that neither is a generative source of knowledge: while the former transmits knowledge from one speaker to another, the latter preserves beliefs from one time to another. These considerations give rise to a stronger and a weaker thesis regarding the transmission of testimonial knowledge. The stronger thesis is that each speaker in a chain of testimonial transmission must know that p in order to pass this knowledge to a hearer. The weaker thesis is that at least the first speaker must know that p in order for any hearer in the chain to come to know that p via testimony. I argue that both theses are false, and hence testimony, unlike memory, can be a generative source of knowledge.

Comment: This is a very good introductory paper on testimonial knowledge and debates between reductivists and non-reductivists. Note that it requires preliminary knowledge on JTB theory.

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Lackey, Jennfer, , . Testimony and the Infant/Child Objection
2005, Philosophical Studies 126(2): 163-190.
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Added by: Jie Gao, Contributed by:

Abstract: One of the central problems afflicting reductionism in the epistemology of testimony is the apparent fact that infants and small children are not cognitively capable of having the inductively based positive reasons required by this view. Since non-reductionism does not impose a requirement of this sort, it is thought to avoid this problem and is therefore taken to have a significant advantage over reductionism. In this paper, however, I argue that if this objection undermines reductionism, then a variant of it similarly undermines non-reductionism. Thus, considerations about the cognitive capacities of infants and small children do not effectively discriminate between these two competing theories of testimonial justification.

Comment: It is a good paper in terms of elucidating the debates between reductionism and non-reductionism. In particular, it critically examines a central problem for reductionism. Suitable as a further reading for teachings on testimony in a course on epistemology.

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Lackey, Jennfer, , . Testimony: Acquiring Knowledge from Others
2010, Goldman, Alvin and Whitcomb, Dennis (eds.), Social Epistemology: Essential Readings. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 71-91
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Added by: Jie Gao, Contributed by:

Introduction: Virtually everything we know depends in some way or other on the testimony of others – what we eat, how things work, where we go, even who we are. We do not, after all, perceive firsthand the preparation of the ingredients in many of our meals, or the construction of the devices we use to get around the world, or the layout of our planet, or our own births and familial histories. These are all things we are told. Indeed, subtracting from our lives the information that we possess via testimony leaves them barely recognizable. Scientific discoveries, battles won and lost, geographical developments, customs and traditions of distant lands – all of these facts would be completely lost to us. It is, therefore, no surprise that the importance of testimony, both epistemological and practical, is nearly universally accepted. Less consensus, however, is found when questions about the nature and extent of our dependence on the word of others arise. Is our justified reliance on testimony fundamentally basic, for instance, or is it ultimately reducible to perception, memory, and reason? Is trust, or some related interpersonal feature of our social interaction with one another, essential to the acquisition of beliefs that are testimonially justified? Is testimonial knowledge necessarily acquired through transmission from speaker to hearer? Can testimony generate epistemic features in its own right? These are the questions that will be taken up in this paper and, as will become clear, their answers have far-reaching consequences for how we understand our place in the social world.

Comment: In this excellent introductory paper, Lackey briefly overviews the essential issues about testimony. It is very useful as a general introduction on testimonal knowledge, hence good for junior undergraduate courses on epistemology or social epistemology.

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Lackey, Jennifer, , . Introduction: Perspectives on testimony
2007, Episteme 4 (3):233-237.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Wayne Riggs

Abstract: Almost everything we know depends in some way on testimony. Without the ability to learn from others, it would be virtually impossible for any individual person to know much beyond what has come within the scope of her immediate perceptual environment. The fruits of science, history, geography – all of these would be beyond our grasp, as would much of what we know about ourselves. We do not, after all, perceive that we belong to one family rather than to another – this is something we are told. Despite the overwhelming importance of testimony, it has been neglected to a large extent in the philosophical tradition. Arguably, this has resulted from a general sense that our other cognitive faculties, such as perception, are more basic and therefore ought to be the primary focus of our investigations. In recent years, however, the idea that testimony is of secondary importance has been forcefully challenged, and new ways of thinking of testimony have been fruitfully explored by a number of philosophers. The present issue of Episteme aims to build on this body of work and to broaden it by incorporating insights from three different groups of people: philosophers who have already done considerable work in social epistemology, philosophers who are for the first time applying their work in other areas of epistemology to testimony, and psychologists who study the development of our ability to learn from others. The papers in this issue, with one exception, were delivered at the fourth annual Episteme conference, held at Rutgers University in June, 2007

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Lackey, Jennifer, , . Knowing from Testimony
2006, Philosophy Compass 1(5): 432-448.
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Added by: Ben McGorrigan, Contributed by: Wayne Riggs

Abstract: Testimony is a vital and ubiquitous source of knowledge. Were we to refrain from accepting the testimony of others, our lives would be impoverished in startling and debilitating ways. Despite the vital role that testimony occupies in our epistemic lives, traditional epistemological theories have focused primarily on other sources, such as sense perception, memory, and reason, with relatively little attention devoted specifically to testimony. In recent years, however, the epistemic significance of testimony has been more fully appreciated. I shall here focus on two questions that have received the most attention in recent work in the epistemology of testimony. First, is testimonial knowledge acquired only by being transmitted from speaker to hearer? Second, must a hearer have positive reasons to justifiedly accept a speaker’s testimony?

Comment: This text will serve as a good introduction to the epistemology of testimony. Aside from its relevance in teaching Epistemology, it will also be of use in teaching Aesthetics where Aesthetic Testimony has become a key topic of debate. Lackey provides various thought experiments which can aid the reader in understanding when knowledge seems to be acquired via testimony, and how this seems to work.

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Lackey, Jennifer, , . Knowledge and credit
2009, Philosophical Studies 142 (1):27 - 42.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Wayne Riggs

Abstract: A widely accepted view in recent work in epistemology is that knowledge is a cognitive achievement that is properly creditable to those subjects who possess it. More precisely, according to the Credit View of Knowledge, if S knows that p, then S deserves credit for truly believing that p. In spite of its intuitive appeal and explanatory power, I have elsewhere argued that the Credit View is false. Various responses have been offered to my argument and I here consider each of these objections in turn. I show that none succeeds in undermining my argument and, thus, my original conclusion stands – the Credit View of Knowledge is false

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Lackey, Jennifer, , . The Epistemology of Testimony: Introduction
2006, In Jennifer Lackey & Ernest Sosa (eds.), The Epistemology of Testimony. Oxford University Press. pp. 1-24.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Wayne Riggs

Introduction: Our dependence on testimony is as deep as it is ubiquitous. We rely on the reports of others for our beliefs about the food we eat, the medicine we ingest, the products we buy, the geography of the world, discoveries in science, historical information, and many other areas that play crucial roles in both our practical and our intellectual lives. Even many of our most important beliefs about ourselves were learned at an earlier time from our parents and caretakers, such as the date of our birth, the identity of our parents, our ethnic backgrounds, and so on. Were we to refrain from accepting the testimony of others, our lives would be impoverished in startling and debilitating ways.

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