Workshop on Testimony and Religious Epistemology

June 23, 2014 - June 25, 2014
Oxford University

United Kingdom

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Keynote speakers:

Lizzie Fricker
Oxford University
Jennifer Lackey
Northwestern University
Paulina Sliwa
Cambridge University

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The New Insights project at the University of Oxford is hosting a mini-workshop on 23 June from 3 30-6 on epistemology. Speakers are Peter Graham (UC-Riverside) and Mikkel Gerken (Edinburgh). This is in advance of the main workshop on Testimony on 24-25 June. Details below; please email [email protected] for more information and for pre-read copies of papers to be discussed.

Ryle Room, Radcliffe Humanities Building
Monday 23 June, 2014

Peter Graham (UC-Riverside)
Title: "The Rational Basis of Testimonial Warrant"

I exposit and criticize Burge's justification for the Acceptance Principle
for testimony. As a part of the justification, Burge claims that rational
sources are reliable sources of truth, for a priori it is a function of
reason to preserve, extend, and promote truth. Rational sources will then
reliably preserve, extend, and promote truth in normal conditions when
functioning normally. Recipients are then entitled to take another's
presentation-as-true as true for presentations-as-true will be reliably true
in normal conditions. The recipient's entitlement then has its basis in the
rationality of the source. I criticize the justification on the grounds that
capacities with functions in general do not reliably fulfill their functions
in normal conditions when functioning normally a priori. I canvass an
alternative social basis for testimonial warrant.

Mikkel Gerken (Edinburgh)
Title: “Against Knowledge First Epistemology”

I begin by criticizing reductionist knowledge first epistemology according
to which knowledge can be used to reductively analyze other epistemic
phenomena. My central concern is that proponents of such an approach commit
the same mistake that they charge their opponents with. This is the mistake
of seeking to reductively analyze basic epistemic phenomena in terms of
other allegedly more fundamental phenomena. I then turn to non- reductionist
brands of knowledge first epistemology. Specifically, I consider the
knowledge norms of assertion and contrast them with an alternative that I
have developed (elsewhere Gerken 2011, 2012a, 2013b, 2014, forthcoming a, Ms
a, b).

On the basis of the critical discussion, I question whether a knowledge
first program that is both plausible and distinctive has been identified. On
a more positive note, I sketch the contours of an alternative that I label
‘holistic epistemology.’ According to this approach (inspired by Strawson),
there isn’t a single epistemic phenomenon or concept that is ‘first.’
Rather, there is a number of basic epistemic phenomena that are not
reductively analyzable although they may be co-elucidated in a non-reductive
manner. This approach preserves some grains of truth in knowledge first
epistemology. For example, it preserves the idea that knowledge can be taken
to be explanatorily basic and unanalyzable. However, since no single epistemic phenomenon is first, knowledge is not first.

Contact: [email protected]

Further details of the New Insights project can be found at:

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