Forming a belief based on the trust of another’s written or spoken word.

Three main positions of validity of knowledge gained through testimony

  1. Skepticism (e.g. John Locke): one cannot gain knowledge on the basis of testimony alone. Cannot ensure reliability of other actors
  2. Reductionism: one can gain knowledge through testimony, but only if one has independent, inductive reason for believing that the speaker is reliable
  3. Non-reductionism (e.g. Nyāya): one can gain knowledge through testimony simply by trusting the speaker (provided that the speaker knows what they assert). Testimony is a trust-worthy epistemic instrument, knowledge is communal

Related: consensus, epistemic authority

Testimonial Injustice

Two main kinds of testimonial injustice

  • Receiving more credibility than they otherwise would have (credibility excess)
  • Receiving less credibility than they otherwise would have (credibility deficit)
    • E.g. speaker’s accent — indicating certain educational/class/regional background
    • Although can be beneficial in some cases, see the Jestermaxxing
  • Specifically, this is in the context of the knower being wrongly judged in their capacity to be accurate
    • Injustice means it must be harmful but also wrongful
    • Injustice also carries a connotation of intentionality to it: it is very hard to believe that one who accidentally misjudges another is committing an injustice against someone (personal belief of Fricker here)

Two modifiers for testimonial injustice

  • Persistent: repeated frequently, for example when the injustices occur in the context of their professional life
  • Systematic: centered within a system of power, fundamental to the predominant social, economic, or political practice

See also: epistemic injustice