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AbstractSocial epistemology has paid little attention to oral historiography as a source of expert insight into the credibility of testimony. One extant suggestion, however, is that oral historians treat testimony with a default trust reflecting a standing warrant for accepting testimony. The view that there is such a standing warrant is sometimes known as the Acceptance Principle for Testimony (APT). I argue that the practices of oral historians do not count in support of APT, all in all. Experts have commonly described oral traditions as oriented towards political, cultural and entertainment ends, and not only—or not even—towards an accurate depiction of past events. Even when accuracy is the emphasis, many historians of oral tradition do not trust such testimony as APT would suggest; the importance of gathering supporting evidence is a consistent emphasis. Yet oral historiography, both of traditions and more generally, does hold out lessons for the epistemology of testimony, implicating a wider range of social and contextual factors than the philosophical literature might otherwise reflect. Perhaps most importantly, it confirms the critical epistemological role of the audience in interpreting testimony and actively constructing testimonial contexts, a point that extends quite naturally to common testimonial exchanges.
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