Linguistic and Epistemological Perspectives on Testimony
Testimony is an essential and indispensable method for acquiring knowledge. Yet understanding the semantics and pragmatics of testimonial utterances and explicating the conditions under which such utterances are reliable—and hence knowledge conferring—is one of the most fundamental problems in philosophy. This problem has both epistemological and linguistic features. But while the problem must be investigated from both of these perspectives, epistemologists and philosophers of language often address it in relative isolation. Our main aim in this project is to integrate current cutting-edge research on the epistemological and linguistic foundations of testimony. We want to consider (a) how current research in philosophy of language and epistemology of testimony may complement each other and (b) how these research programs may be applied to practical societal matters. Our main focus will be cases of public scientific testimony and the proper role of scientific testimony in society. This includes, for example, scientific testimony about the impact of climate change. We will also compare cases of scientific testimony to other cases that concern the nature and impact of testimony on normative issues, e.g. political testimony. The latter cases in particular also raise questions regarding harmful testimony and testimonial injustice which will be a central focus in the latter stages of the project.