Anonymity and testimonial warrant


  • David Matheson Carleton University, Canada



Reductionism as an approach to the epistemology of testimony places certain demands on the recipient of testimony that its competitor, antireductionism, does not. After laying out the two approaches and their respective demands on the recipient of testimony, I argue that reductionism also places certain
anonymity-shedding demands on the testifier that antireductionism does not. The difficulty of deciding between the approaches leads to a worry about the extent to which the current state of affairs in epistemology can offer secure
advice on the sorts of anonymity constraints that a networked society should place on its testifiers. This worry can be mitigated, I further argue, upon recognition of the fact that the two approaches stand on common ground when it comes to cases of known testimonial conflict.

Author Biography

David Matheson, Carleton University, Canada

Professor Matheson completed his doctoral studies at Brown University in 2003.  His current research focuses on various topics at the intersection of epistemology and other branches of philosophy, such as privacy, testimony, dignity, externalist cognition, and the knowledge of persons.  Among Professor Matheson’s recent articles are “Externalism and Minimal Propositions” (with Professor Corazza, in progress), “Knowing Persons” (in progress), “A Distributive Reductionism about the Right to Privacy” (The Monist), “Dignity and Selective Self-presentation” (On the Identity Trail, Oxford University Press), “Unknowableness and Informational Privacy” (Journal of Philosophical Research), “Virtue and the Surveillance Society” (International Journal of Technology, Knowledge, and Society), “Bounded Rationality and the Enlightenment Picture of Cognitive Virtue” (Contemporary Debates in Cognitive Science, Blackwell), “Conflicting Experts and Dialectical Performance” (Argumentation), “Faith Shunning Validation” (International Journal for Philosophy of Religion), and “Anonymity and Testimonial Warrant” (Principia).