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Summary Philosophical discussion of norms of assertion has concentrated on whether there is a rule governing the speech act of assertion which specifies a necessary condition for making the speech act permissible on that occasion. The knowledge norm, which says that one must: assert that p only if one knows that p, has been widely defended, but rival accounts require other epistemic or alethic conditions, such as justified or reasonable belief, or that it be reasonable for one to believe, or simply that one's assertion be true. The arguments for such accounts appeal to conversational patterns and linguistic data, as well as intuitions about cases. Debate has ensued over whether there even is such a norm; whether the norm (whatever its content) is constitutive of the speech act of assertion; whether the norm has a different structure, or is flexible or context-sensitive; whether such a norm supports contextualism, or pragmatic encroachment, in epistemology; and whether meeting the norm is not only necessary but also sufficient for (epistemically) permissible assertion. Many discussions also consider whether there are related (epistemic) rules governing proper belief or properly acting on a proposition.
Key works Unger 1975 (Ch. 6) provides an early discussion, but Williamson 1996 / Williamson 2000 (Ch. 11) is the most sustained defense of the knowledge norm, and has set the agenda for the debate. Important rival accounts are offered by Weiner 2005Douven 2006Lackey 2007, McKinnon 2013, and Pelling 2013. DeRose 2002 / DeRose 2009 (Ch. 3) argues from the knowledge norm to contextualism; see Turri 2010 for an intriguing reply. Greenough et al 2009 and Brown & Cappelen 2011 contain recent work; see also Turri 2011Benton 2011, Blaauw 2012, Turri 2013, Buckwalter & Turri 2013, and Benton forthcoming for some recent advancements. On whether a sufficiency direction of the knowledge norm is plausible, see Brown 2010, Lackey 2011, and Benton forthcoming.
Introductions Weiner 2007 and MacFarlane 2011 are good overviews of the topic.
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  1. Jonathan E. Adler (2009). Another Argument for the Knowledge Norm. Analysis 69 (3):407-411.
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  2. Scott F. Aikin (2006). Contrastive Self-Attribution of Belief. Social Epistemology 20 (1):93 – 103.
    A common argument for evidentialism is that the norms of assertion, specifically those bearing on warrant and assertability, regulate belief. On this assertoric model of belief, a constitutive condition for belief is that the believing subject take her belief to be supported by sufficient evidence. An equally common source of resistance to these arguments is the plausibility of cases in which a speaker, despite the fact that she lacks warrant to assert that p, nevertheless attributes to herself the belief that (...)
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  3. Kent Bach (2008). Applying Pragmatics to Epistemology. Philosophical Issues 18 (1):68-88.
    This paper offers a smattering of applications of pragmatics to epistemology. In most cases they concern recent epistemological claims that depend for their plausibility on mistaking something pragmatic for something semantic. After giving my formulation of the semantic/pragmatic distinction and explaining how seemingly semantic intuitions can be responsive to pragmatic factors, I take up the following topics: 1. Classic Examples of Confusing Meaning and Use 2. Pragmatic Implications of Hedging or Intensifying an Assertion 3. Belief Attributions 4. Knowledge-wh 5. The (...)
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  4. Brian Ball (forthcoming). Speech Acts: Natural or Normative Kinds? Mind and Language.
    There are two views of the essences of speech acts: according to one view, they are natural kinds; according to the other, they are what I call normative kinds – kinds in the (possibly non-reductive) definition of which some normative term occurs. In this paper I show that speech acts can be normative but also natural kinds by deriving Williamson’s account of assertion, on which it is an act individuated, and constitutively governed, by a norm (the knowledge rule), from a (...)
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  5. Brian Ball (forthcoming). The Knowledge Rule and the Action Rule. Southern Journal of Philosophy.
    In this paper I compare Timothy Williamson’s knowledge rule of assertion with Ishani Maitra and Brian Weatherson’s action rule. The paper is in two parts. In the first part I present and respond to Maitra and Weatherson’s master argument against the knowledge rule. I argue that while its second premise, to the effect that an action X can be the thing to do though one is in no position to know that it is, is true, its first premise is not: (...)
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  6. Matthew A. Benton (forthcoming). Believing on Authority. European Journal for Philosophy of Religion.
    Linda Zagzebski's "Epistemic Authority" (Oxford University Press, 2012) brings together issues in social epistemology with topics in moral and political philosophy as well as philosophy of religion. In this paper I criticize her discussion of self-trust and rationality, which sets up the main argument of the book; I consider how her view of authority relates to some issues of epistemic authority in testimony; and I raise some concerns about her treatment of religious epistemology and religious authority in particular.
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  7. Matthew A. Benton (forthcoming). Expert Opinion and Second-Hand Knowledge. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Expert testimony figures in recent debates over how best to understand the norm of assertion and the domain-specific epistemic expectations placed on testifiers. Cases of experts asserting with only isolated second-hand knowledge (Lackey 2011, 2013) have been used to shed light on whether knowledge is sufficient for epistemically permissible assertion. I argue that relying on such cases of expert testimony introduces several problems concerning how we understand expert knowledge, and the sharing of such knowledge through testimony. Refinements are needed to (...)
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  8. Matthew A. Benton (forthcoming). Gricean Quality. Noûs.
    Some philosophers oppose recent arguments for the Knowledge Account of Assertion by claiming that assertion, being an act much like any other, will be subject to norms governing acts generally, such as those articulated by Grice for the purpose of successful, cooperative endeavours. But in fact, Grice is a traitor to their cause; or rather, they are his dissenters, not his disciples. Drawing on Grice's unpublished papers, I show that he thought of asserting as a special linguistic act in need (...)
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  9. Matthew A. Benton (2013). Dubious Objections From Iterated Conjunctions. Philosophical Studies 162 (2):355-358.
    The knowledge account of assertion—-roughly: one should not assert what one does not know—-can explain a variety of Moorean conjunctions, a fact often cited as evidence in its favor. David Sosa ("Dubious Assertions," Phil Studies, 2009) has objected that the account does not generalize satisfactorily, since it cannot explain the infelicity of certain iterated conjunctions without appealing to the controversial "KK" principle. This essay responds by showing how the knowledge account can handle such conjunctions without use of the KK principle.
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  10. Matthew A. Benton (2012). Assertion, Knowledge and Predictions. Analysis 72 (1):102-105.
    John N. Williams (1994) and Matthew Weiner (2005) invoke predictions in order to undermine the normative relevance of knowledge for assertions; in particular, Weiner argues, predictions are important counterexamples to the Knowledge Account of Assertion (KAA). I argue here that they are not true counterexamples at all, a point that can be agreed upon even by those who reject KAA.
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  11. Matthew A. Benton (2011). Two More for the Knowledge Account of Assertion. Analysis 71 (4):684-687.
    The Knowledge Account of Assertion (KAA) has received added support recently from data on prompting assertion (Turri 2010) and from a refinement suggesting that assertions ought to express knowledge (Turri 2011). This paper adds another argument from parenthetical positioning, and then argues that KAA’s unified explanation of some of the earliest data (from Moorean conjunctions) adduced in its favor recommends KAA over its rivals.
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  12. Matthew A. Benton & John Turri (2014). Iffy Predictions and Proper Expectations. Synthese 191 (8):1857-1866.
    What individuates the speech act of prediction? The standard view is that prediction is individuated by the fact that it is the unique speech act that requires future-directed content. We argue against this view and two successor views. We then lay out several other potential strategies for individuating prediction, including the sort of view we favor. We suggest that prediction is individuated normatively and has a special connection to the epistemic standards of expectation. In the process, we advocate some constraints (...)
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  13. Martijn Blaauw (2012). Reinforcing the Knowledge Account of Assertion. Analysis 72 (1):105-108.
    Many philosophers are building a solid case in favour of the knowledge account of assertion (KAA). According to KAA, if one asserts that P one represents oneself as knowing that P. KAA has recently received support from linguistic data about prompting challenges, parenthetical positioning and predictions. In this article, I add another argument to this rapidly growing list: an argument from what I will call ‘reinforcing parenthesis’.
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  14. Martijn Blaauw & Jeroen de Ridder (2012). Unsafe Assertions. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (4):1-5.
    John Turri has recently provided two problem cases for the knowledge account of assertion (KAA) to argue for the express knowledge account of assertion (EKAA). We defend KAA by explaining away the intuitions about the problem cases and by showing that our explanation is theoretically superior to EKAA.
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  15. Tim Black (2008). A Warranted-Assertability Defense of a Moorean Response to Skepticism. Acta Analytica 23 (3):187-205.
    According to a Moorean response to skepticism, the standards for knowledge are invariantly comparatively low, and we can know across contexts all that we ordinarily take ourselves to know. It is incumbent upon the Moorean to defend his position by explaining how, in contexts in which S seems to lack knowledge, S can nevertheless have knowledge. The explanation proposed here relies on a warranted-assertability maneuver: Because we are warranted in asserting that S doesn’t know that p, it can seem that (...)
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  16. Michael Blome-Tillmann (2013). Contextualism and the Knowledge Norms. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 94 (1):89-100.
    Epistemic contextualism is widely believed to be incompatible with the recently popular view that knowledge is the norm of assertion, practical reasoning, or belief. I argue in this article that the problems arising for contextualism from the mentioned normative views are only apparent and can be resolved by acknowledging the fairly widespread phenomenon of non-obvious context-sensitivity (recently embraced by even some of contextualism's most ardent former critics). Building on recent insights about non-obvious context-sensitivity, the article outlines an independently attractive contextualist (...)
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  17. Elke Brendel (2014). Contextualism, Relativism, and the Semantics of Knowledge Ascriptions. Philosophical Studies 168 (1):101-117.
    It is argued that neither contextualism nor relativism can provide a satisfying semantics of knowledge ascriptions. According to contextualism, the truth conditions of knowledge ascriptions of the form “S knows that p” vary with the epistemic standards operative in the contexts of utterance. These epistemic standards are determined, in particular, by the speaker’s stakes with regard to p or the consideration of error-possibilities. It is shown that the absolute concept of utterance truth together with a knowledge rule of assertion lead (...)
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  18. Berit Brogaard (forthcoming). Intellectual Flourishing as the Fundamental Epistemic Norm. In C. Littlejohn & J. Turri (eds.), Epistemic Norms.
    According to the extended knowledge account of assertion, we should only assert and act on what we know. Call this the ‘Knowledge Norm’. Because moral and prudential rules prohibit morally and prudentially unacceptable actions and assertions, they can, familiarly, override the Knowledge Norm. This, however, raises the question of whether other epistemic norms, too, can override the Knowledge Norm. The present paper offers an affirmative answer to this question and then argues that the Knowledge Norm is derived from a more (...)
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  19. Berit Brogaard (forthcoming). Towards a Eudaimonistic Virtue Epistemology. In Abrol Fairweather (ed.), Naturalizing Virtue Epistemology. Synthese Library.
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  20. Ben Bronner (2013). Assertions Only? Thought 2 (1):44-52.
    It is standardly believed that the only way to justify an assertion in the face of a challenge is by making another assertion. Call this claim ASSERTIONS ONLY. Besides its intrinsic interest, ASSERTIONS ONLY is relevant to deciding between competing views of the norms that govern reasoned discourse. ASSERTIONS ONLY is also a crucial part of the motivation for infinitism and Pyrrhonian skepticism. I suggest that ASSERTIONS ONLY is false: I can justify an assertion by drawing attention to something that (...)
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  21. Jessica Brown (2013). Cognitive Diversity and Epistemic Norms. Philosophical Issues 23 (1):326-342.
  22. Jessica Brown (2012). Assertion and Practical Reasoning: Common or Divergent Epistemic Standards? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (1):123-157.
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  23. Jessica Brown (2011). Fallibilism and the Knowledge Norm for Assertion and Practical Reasoning. In Jessica Brown & Herman Cappelen (eds.), Assertion: New Philosophical Essays. Oup Oxford.
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  24. Jessica Brown (2010). Knowledge and Assertion. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81 (3):549-566.
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  25. Jessica Brown (2008). The Knowledge Norm for Assertion. Philosophical Issues 18 (1):89-103.
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  26. Jessica Brown (2006). Contextualism and Warranted Assertibility Manoeuvres. Philosophical Studies 130 (3):407 - 435.
    Contextualists such as Cohen and DeRose claim that the truth conditions of knowledge attributions vary contextually, in particular that the strength of epistemic position required for one to be truly ascribed knowledge depends on features of the attributor's context. Contextualists support their view by appeal to our intuitions about when it's correct (or incorrect) to ascribe knowledge. Someone might argue that some of these intuitions merely reflect when it is conversationally appropriate to ascribe knowledge, not when knowledge is truly ascribed, (...)
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  27. Jessica Brown & Herman Cappelen (eds.) (2011). Assertion: New Philosophical Essays. Oxford University Press.
    Assertion is a fundamental feature of language. This volume will be the place to look for anyone interested in current work on the topic.
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  28. Wesley Buckwalter & John Turri (2013). Telling, Showing and Knowing: A Unified Theory of Pedagogical Norms. Analysis (1):ant092.
    Pedagogy is a pillar of human culture and society. Telling each other information and showing each other how to do things comes naturally to us. A strong case has been made that declarative knowledge is the norm of assertion, which is our primary way of telling others information. This article presents an analogous case for the hypothesis that procedural knowledge is the norm of instructional demonstration, which is a primary way of showing others how to do things. Knowledge is the (...)
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  29. Christopher Buford (2009). Contextualism, Closure, and the Knowledge Account of Assertion. Journal of Philosophical Research 34:111-121.
    This paper argues that Epistemic Contextualism, Knowledge Closure, and the Knowledge Account of Assertion are inconsistent. The argument is developed by considering an objection to Contextualism that is unsuccessful. Some Contextualist responses are canvassed and rejected. Finally, it is argued that an analogue of the inconsistency arises for those who accept that justification is closed under known entailment.
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  30. Herman Cappelen (2011). Against Assertion. In Jessica Brown & Herman Cappelen (eds.), Assertion: New Philosophical Essays. Oxford University Press.
    The view defended in this paper - I call it the No-Assertion view - rejects the assumption that it is theoretically useful to single out a subset of sayings as assertions: (v) Sayings are governed by variable norms, come with variable commitments and have variable causes and effects. What philosophers have tried to capture by the term 'assertion' is largely a philosophers' invention. It fails to pick out an act-type that we engage in and it is not a category we (...)
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  31. J. Carter & Emma Gordon (2011). Norms of Assertion: The Quantity and Quality of Epistemic Support. Philosophia 39 (4):615-635.
    We show that the contemporary debate surrounding the question “What is the norm of assertion?” presupposes what we call the quantitative view, i.e. the view that this question is best answered by determining how much epistemic support is required to warrant assertion. We consider what Jennifer Lackey ( 2010 ) has called cases of isolated second-hand knowledge and show—beyond what Lackey has suggested herself—that these cases are best understood as ones where a certain type of understanding , rather than knowledge, (...)
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  32. Paolo Casalegno (2009). Reasons to Believe and Assertion. Dialectica 63 (3):231-248.
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  33. Ramiro Caso (2014). Assertion and Relative Truth. Synthese 191 (6):1309-1325.
    An account of assertion along truth-relativistic lines is offered. The main lines of relativism about truth are laid out and the problematic features that assertion acquires in the presence of relative truth are identified. These features are the possibility of coherently formulating norms of assertion and the possibility of grounding a rational practice of assertion upon relative truth. A solution to these problems is provided by formulating norms for making and assessing assertions that employ a suitably relativized truth predicate and (...)
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  34. Timothy Chan (2008). Belief, Assertion and Moore's Paradox. Philosophical Studies 139 (3):395 - 414.
    In this article I argue that two received accounts of belief and assertion cannot both be correct, because they entail mutually contradictory claims about Moore’s Paradox. The two accounts in question are, first, the Action Theory of Belief (ATB), the functionalist view that belief must be manifested in dispositions to act, and second, the Belief Account of Assertion (BAA), the Gricean view that an asserter must present himself as believing what he asserts. It is generally accepted also that Moorean assertions (...)
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  35. Timothy Chan & Guy Kahane (2011). The Trouble with Being Sincere. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 41 (2):215-234.
    Questions about sincerity play a central role in our lives. But what makes an assertion insincere? In this paper we argue that the answer to this question is not as straightforward as it has sometimes been taken to be. Until recently the dominant answer has been that a speaker makes an insincere assertion if and only if he does not believe the proposition asserted. There are, however, persuasive counterexamples to this simple account. It has been proposed instead that an insincere (...)
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  36. E. J. Coffman (2011). Does Knowledge Secure Warrant to Assert? Philosophical Studies 154 (2):285 - 300.
    This paper fortifies and defends the so called Sufficiency Argument (SA) against Classical Invariantism. In Sect. 2,I explain the version of the SA formulated but then rejected by Brown (2008a). In Sect. 3, I show how cases described by Hawthorne (2004), Brown (2008b), and Lackey (forthcoming) threaten to undermine one or the other of the SA's least secure premises. In Sect. 4,I buttress one of those premises and defend the reinforced SA from the objection developed in Sect. 3.
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  37. Stewart Cohen (2004). Knowledge, Assertion, and Practical Reasoning. Philosophical Issues 14 (1):482–491.
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  38. Wayne A. Davis (2007). Knowledge Claims and Context: Loose Use. [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 132 (3):395 - 438.
    There is abundant evidence of contextual variation in the use of “S knows p.” Contextualist theories explain this variation in terms of semantic hypotheses that refer to standards of justification determined by “practical” features of either the subject’s context (Hawthorne & Stanley) or the ascriber’s context (Lewis, Cohen, & DeRose). There is extensive linguistic counterevidence to both forms. I maintain that the contextual variation of knowledge claims is better explained by common pragmatic factors. I show here that one is variable (...)
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  39. Keith DeRose (2002). Assertion, Knowledge, and Context. Philosophical Review 111 (2):167-203.
    This paper uses the knowledge account of assertion (KAA) in defense of epistemological contextualism. Part 1 explores the main problem afflicting contextualism, what I call the "Generality Objection." Part 2 presents and defends both KAA and a powerful new positive argument that it provides for contextualism. Part 3 uses KAA to answer the Generality Objection, and also casts other shadows over the prospects for anti-contextualism.
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  40. Keith DeRose (2002). ``Assertion, Knowledge, and Context&Quot. Philosophical Review 111:167-203.
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  41. Keith DeRose (1996). Knowledge, Assertion and Lotteries. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (4):568 – 580.
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  42. Julian Dodd (1999). There is No Norm of Truth: A Minimalist Reply to Wright. Analysis 59 (4):291–299.
  43. Igor Douven (2009). Assertion, Moore, and Bayes. Philosophical Studies 144 (3):361 - 375.
    It is widely believed that the so-called knowledge account of assertion best explains why sentences such as “It’s raining in Paris but I don’t believe it” and “It’s raining in Paris but I don’t know it” appear odd to us. I argue that the rival rational credibility account of assertion explains that fact just as well. I do so by providing a broadly Bayesian analysis of the said type of sentences which shows that such sentences cannot express rationally held beliefs. (...)
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  44. Igor Douven (2006). Assertion, Knowledge, and Rational Credibility. Philosophical Review 115 (4):449-485.
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  45. Ian J. Dove (2005). On Assertion and Robustness. Southwest Philosophy Review 21 (1):85-92.
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  46. Pascal Engel (2008). In What Sense is Knowledge the Norm of Assertion? Grazer Philosophische Studien 77 (1):45-59.
    The knowledge account of assertion (KAA) is the view that assertion is governed by the norm that the speaker should know what s/he asserts. It is not the purpose of this article to examine all the criticisms nor to try to give a full defence of KAA, but only to defend it against the charge of being normatively incorrect. It has been objected that assertion is governed by other norms than knowledge, or by no norm at all. It seems to (...)
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  47. Don Fallis (2012). Lying as a Violation of Grice's First Maxim of Quality. Dialectica 66 (4):563-581.
    According to the traditional philosophical definition, you lie if and only if you assert what you believe to be false with the intent to deceive. However, several philosophers (e.g., Carson 2006, Sorensen 2007, Fallis 2009) have pointed out that there are lies that are not intended to deceive and, thus, that the traditional definition fails. In 2009, I suggested an alternative definition: you lie if and only if you say what you believe to be false when you believe that one (...)
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  48. Mikkel Gerken (2014). Same, Same but Different: The Epistemic Norms of Assertion, Action and Practical Reasoning. Philosophical Studies 168 (3):725-744.
    What is the relationship between the epistemic norms of assertion and the epistemic norms of action/practical reasoning? Brown argues that the epistemic standards for practical reasoning and assertion are distinct (Brown in Philos Phenomenol Res 84(1):123–157, 2012). In contrast, Montminy argues that practical reasoning and assertion must be governed by the same epistemic norm (Montminy in Pac Philos Quart 93(4):57–68, 2012). Likewise, McKinnon has articulated an argument for a unified account from cases of isolated second-hand knowledge (McKinnon in Logos Episteme (...)
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  49. Mikkel Gerken (2012). Discursive Justification and Skepticism. Synthese 189 (2):373-394.
    In this paper, I consider how a general epistemic norm of action that I have proposed in earlier work should be specified in order to govern certain types of acts: assertive speech acts. More specifically, I argue that the epistemic norm of assertion is structurally similar to the epistemic norm of action. First, I argue that the notion of warrant operative in the epistemic norm of a central type of assertion is an internalist one that I call ‘discursive justification.’ This (...)
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  50. Sanford Goldberg (2011). Putting the Norm of Assertion to Work: The Case of Testimony. In Jessica Brown & Herman Cappelen (eds.), Assertion: New Philosophical Essays. Oup Oxford.
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