Contributions of socially distributed cognition to social epistemology: The case of testimony

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The goal of this paper is to review and analyze norms philosophically associated with the process of testimony and to investigate to what extent they are consistent with empirical knowledge supplied by cognitive science. Traditionally, the problem of testimony used to arise when it was supposed, from the viewpoint of an individualistic epistemology, that followed the dictum stated by rationalists and empiricists in Modernity, that knowledge had to be tested personally. However, recent disciplines and approaches, like Socially Distributed Cognition and Social Epistemology, provide alternative ways of thinking. This is the case when we consider the group as the truly significant cognitive unit and from such perspective we try to solve the problem of testimony. Therefore, our aim is to examine the reasons why SDC offers a good model for explaining some of the paradoxes and epistemological problems that arise when we consider the issue of testimony in the development of science.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-68
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


  • Social distributed cognition
  • Social epistemology
  • Testimony


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