Knowledge by Agreement: The Programme of Communitarian Epistemology

By Martin Kusch | Go to book overview

Chapter 4 THE GLOBAL JUSTIFICATION OF TESTIMONY

REDUCTIONISM

How can we provide a general justification for a given type of knowledge? The intuitively most plausible answer is 'reductionism'. The reductionist's answer is simple: justify the given knowledge in terms of another, more secure, and more fundamental form of knowledge. How can I justify my knowledge of the external world? 'Try to derive it from your knowledge of your own mental states', says the reductionist. How can I justify my trust in other people's words? 'Try to reduce testimony to more secure sources of knowledge, like perception, inference, and memory', says the reductionist.

Reductionism is usually a form of 'foundationalism'. Foundationalism is the view that justification comes to an end once we have reached a level of beliefs that needs no further justification. These bedrock beliefs are 'fundamental' or 'foundational'. Naturally, not all forms of reductionism need to be committed to foundationalism. For instance, a reductionist with respect to testimonial beliefs might insist that we need other forms of belief in order to justify our trust in testimony; but this same reductionist might deny that these other beliefs are all fundamental, or that these other beliefs divide into more or less fundamental ones. Nevertheless, as we shall see in a moment, it is helpful and illuminating to see reductionism concerning testimony as a

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Knowledge by Agreement: The Programme of Communitarian Epistemology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Knowledge by Agreement iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • Figures xiv
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I Testimony 7
  • Chapter 1 Questions and Positions 9
  • Chapter 2 the Limits of Testimony 14
  • Chapter 3 Inferentialism —pro and Contra 20
  • Chapter 4 the Global Justification of Testimony 29
  • Chapter 5 Testimony in Communitarian Epistemology 45
  • Chapter 6 Summary 76
  • Appendix I.1 Bayesianism and Testimony 78
  • Part II Empirical Belief 83
  • Chapter 7 Questions About Rationality 85
  • Chapter 8 Foundationalism and Coherentism 91
  • Chapter 9 Direct Realism and Reliabilism 102
  • Chapter 10 Consensualism and Interpretationalism 113
  • Chapter 11 Contextualism and Communitarianism 131
  • Chapter 12 Summary 169
  • Part III Objectivity 171
  • Chapter 13 Beyond Epistemology 173
  • Chapter 14: Normativity and Community 175
  • Chapter 15 Meaning Finitism 197
  • Appendix 15.2 Meaning Scepticism 209
  • Chapter 16 Truth 212
  • Chapter 17 Reality 233
  • Chapter 18 Objectivity 249
  • Chapter 19 Relativism 269
  • Chapter 20 Summary 280
  • Epilogue 283
  • References 287
  • Index 299
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