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MA Thesis Defense: Jonathan Reza
June 20 @ 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
‘A defense of Hume’s epistemology of testimony’
Jonathan Reza (Cal State Long Beach)
20 Jun 2022 • 11:00am–1:00pm • Zoom link (meeting ID: 834 3798 7111; passcode: 885772)
Abstract: Testimonial reductionism is the view that any instance of testimony is justified by more basic sources of knowledge like sensory perception, memory, and induction. Thanks to C. A. J. Coady’s famous critique in his Testimony: A Philosophical Study (1992), Hume is now considered the arch-reductionist of testimony in contemporary social epistemology. In this thesis, I challenge this notion and claim that Coady’s interpretation is anachronistic because it unjustifiably situates Hume’s essay ‘Of Miracles’ in a very different context than was originally intended. I critically engage with four claims made by Coady, and defend Hume by interpreting him according to his empiricism and original focus on miracles and the testimony thereof. In doing so, I indirectly argue for an interpretation of ‘Of Miracles’ that sees Hume as less individualistic, socially integrated, and responsible with respect to testimony—in particular miraculous testimony. Although Hume’s remarks do provide useful things for philosophers of testimony to think about now, we must not forget that Hume is not a 21st century philosopher of testimony because his concerns were more particularized to the case of miracles.
Oral defenses are open to the public. For a draft copy of the thesis in advance, please contact Jonny <email@example.com> directly.