Tradition as Transmission: A Partial Defence

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This paper is part of a symposium on Linda Zagzebski's EPISTEMIC AUTHORITY (OUP, 2012). It focuses on Zagzebski's argument that the transmission of information through a chain of testimony weakens its evidential value. This argument is shown to rest on an overly simplistic model of testimonial transmission that does not apply to religious traditions. The real problem with modeling religious traditions just as transmitters of information is that this assumes a conception of religious knowledge that is too "insular" with respect to other things the believer knows, as well as aspects of religious faith that go beyond the mere acceptance of doctrines.
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