When we refer to documents, works of art, or historical artifacts as authentic, we mean that they are the “real thing,” or that they are what they claim to be. For example, to verify a claim that a Picasso painting is authentic, art appraisers have to verify that it was painted by Picasso. Similarly, in providing attest services, auditors verify that a company’s financial report reflects the true state of the company’s financial affairs and is therefore authentic. As illustrated by these examples, when one calls something “authentic,” one is making a truth claim. And where statements of “truth” are involved, epistemological questions emerge. If one believes, along with the positivists, that a true “picture depiction” of reality is possible, this belief will influence one’s ...

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