Kant on Testimony and the Communicability of Empirical Knowledge

Alexandra Newton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper argues for Kantian "universalism," according to which the subject of empirical cognition is not merely individual, but universal. In the first section, I consider the limitations of Hume's individualist view of the subject of judgment, which is able to explain how another person exerts power over my judgments, but cannot explain how what she says can challenge or support my judgments. In the second section, I argue that Kant's universalism accounts for the possibility of rational support both among different judgments in me, and among judgments of different subjects. The third section looks at the consequences of universalism for Kant's account of testimony. I argue that on Kant's view, it does not matter whether I learn something from my own experience or from your experience. Testimony thus does not emerge in Kant's philosophy as a significant topic. In the fourth section, I argue that the enlightenment project of overcoming prejudice and acquiring wisdom makes it imperative that knowledge be not only universally shareable, but also actually shared among members of an epistemic community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-290
Number of pages20
JournalPhilosophical Topics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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