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Birds

Vol 1, Issue 1

Spring 2008

A Problem with Defining Testimony: Intention and Manifestation

Within current epistemological work in the field of testimony it is generally considered usual to accept cases of non-verbal testimony within definitions of testimony (testimony through manifestation); it is also considered usual to accept cases in which the speaker does not intend to testify (non-intentional testimony). In this paper I show that while considered individually these two cases are unproblematic, this is not the case when both are considered as part of a definition of testimony. I suggest a case in which a person testifying non-verbally and non-intentionally is uncomfortably close to a case which we must count as perception; this is undesirable, as we clearly want to separate cases of testimony from cases of perception. I then look at possible solutions to this problem rejecting a number of solutions; I settle on a solution based on Jennifer Lackey’s work on testimony. I conclude that we need not worry about the conjunction of non-intentional testimony with manifestational testimony as long as we are careful when we are trying to define testimony.

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