The epistemic parity of testimony, memory, and *perception

2006 2006

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Abstract (summary)

Extensive literatures exist on the epistemology of testimony, memory, and perception, but for the most part these literatures do not systematically consider the extent of the analogies between the three epistemic sources. A number of the same problems reappear in all three literatures, however. Dealing simultaneously with all three sources and making a careful accounting of the analogies and disanalogies between them should therefore avoid unnecessary duplication of effort. Other than limits on the scope of which memorially- and testimonially-based beliefs should be included in the Parity Thesis, I argue that most of the disanalogies that different philosophers have proffered between the sources do not mark distinctions among the universes of possible testimonially-, memorially-, and perceptually-based beliefs regarding the explanation of those beliefs’ epistemic status.

I first criticize the suggestion that perception is a generative epistemic source, while testimony and memory are not; I propose and defend counterexamples in which testimony and memory produce new beliefs. Next, I criticize a variety of distinctions that have been drawn between testimony and perception, taken chiefly from the reductionist-antireductionist literature on testimony. I criticize the suggestion that the conceptualization of content and the transparency of experience affect the epistemologies of testimony and perception in different ways. Regarding memory and testimony, I advocate modeling testimony on the legal relationship of a principal and an agent, arguing that law’s apparatus used to analyze such situations suggests that using others’ epistemic services in testimony will supply the same epistemic benefits and burdens as if we had performed those epistemic tasks personally and then relied only on memory. I apply this analysis to the transmission of defeaters in testimony. I argue that memory does feature the epistemic equivalent of a perceptual image and that both perceptually- and memorially-based beliefs can concern either the past or the present. Finally, I construct a set of six transformations that turn individual possible instances of perceptually-, memorially-, or testimonially-based beliefs into individual possible instances of the other two types of beliefs without changing the structure of those beliefs’ epistemologies.

Indexing (details)

0393: Epistemology
0422: Philosophy
Identifier / keyword
Philosophy, religion and theology; Epistemic parity; Law and epistemology; Memory; Perception; Testimony
The epistemic parity of testimony, memory, and *perception
Green, Christopher Raymond
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 71/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
DePaul, Michael; Plantinga, Alvin
University of Notre Dame
University location
United States -- Indiana
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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