Human Testimony

Forthcoming in Normativity and Control (Oxford University Press 2017 Forthcoming)

45 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2016

Date Written: October 1, 2016


Burge maintains that human beings are entitled to accept the testimony of other human beings simply in virtue of the fact that we are all rational believers. Reid maintains that human testimony depends on distinctive features of human psychology that may not be shared by all rational creatures. I argue that, on this point, Reid is correct. The transmission of belief (and so knowledge) exploits our human emotional psychology and in particular the impact the expression of emotion makes on other humans. It would not work among rational creatures with a different emotional psychology. I conclude by criticising the assurance model of testimony.

Suggested Citation

Owens, David, Human Testimony (October 1, 2016). Forthcoming in Normativity and Control (Oxford University Press 2017 Forthcoming), Available at SSRN:

David Owens (Contact Author)

Kings College London ( email )

Philosophy Building
The Strand
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

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