more from Pierre Simon de Laplace

Single Idea 7458

[catalogued under 13. Knowledge Criteria / C. External Justification / 7. Testimony]

Full Idea

The credibility of a witness is in part a function of the story being reported. When the story claims to have infinite value, the temptation to lie for personal benefit is asymptotically infinite.


'Asymptotic' means gets closer, without limit

Gist of Idea

The reliability of witnesses depends on whether they benefit from their observations


report of Pierre Simon de Laplace (Philosophical Essay on Probability [1820], Ch.XI) by Ian Hacking - The Emergence of Probability Ch.8

Book Reference

Hacking,Ian: 'The Emergence of Probability' [CUP 1975], p.72

A Reaction

Laplace seems to especially have reports of miracles in mind. This observation certainly dashes any dreams one might have of producing a statistical measure of the reliability of testimony.