About this topic
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 McKinnon 2015, Pelling 2013, and Goldberg 2015. DeRose 2002 / DeRose 2009 (Ch. 3) argues from the knowledge norm to contextualism; see Turri 2010 for an intriguing reply. Pritchard & Greenough 2009, Brown & Cappelen 2011, and Littlejohn & Turri 2013 contain recent work; see also Turri 2011Benton 2011, Blaauw 2012, Turri 2013, Buckwalter & Turri 2014Turri 2015, Benton 2016, and Benton forthcoming, for some recent advancements. On whether a sufficiency direction of the knowledge norm is plausible, see Brown 2010, Lackey 2011, Benton 2016, and Lackey 2016.
Introductions Weiner 2007 and MacFarlane 2011 are good overviews of the topic; see also Benton 2014, especially section 1.
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  1. Contextualism and Fallibility: Pragmatic Encroachment, Possibility, and Strength of Epistemic Position.Jonathan E. Adler - 2012 - Synthese 188 (2):247-272.
    A critique of conversational epistemic contextualism focusing initially on why pragmatic encroachment for knowledge is to be avoided. The data for pragmatic encroachment by way of greater costs of error and the complementary means to raise standards of introducing counter-possibilities are argued to be accountable for by prudence, fallibility and pragmatics. This theme is sharpened by a contrast in recommendations: holding a number of factors constant, when allegedly higher standards for knowing hold, invariantists still recommend assertion (action), while contextualists do (...)
  2. Another Argument for the Knowledge Norm.Jonathan E. Adler - 2009 - Analysis 69 (3):407-411.
    The knowledge norm of assertion is mainly in competition with a high probability or rational credibility norm. The argument for the knowledge norm that I offer turns on cases in which a hearer responds to a speaker's assertion by asserting another sentence that would lower the probability of the speaker's assertion, were its probability less than one. In cases like this, though with qualifications, is the hearer's contribution a challenge to the speaker's assertion or complementary to it? My answer is (...)
  3. Contrastive Self-Attribution of Belief.Scott F. Aikin - 2006 - 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 (...)
  4. Applying Pragmatics to Epistemology.Kent Bach - 2008 - 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 (...)
  5. Deriving the Norm of Assertion.Ball Brian - 2014 - Journal of Philosophical Research 39:75-85.
    Frank Hindriks has attempted to derive a variant of Timothy Williamson’s knowledge rule for assertion on the basis of a more fundamental belief expression analysis of that speech act. I show that his attempted derivation involves a crucial equivocation between two senses of ‘must,’ and therefore fails. I suggest two possible repairs; but I argue that even if they are successful, we should prefer Williamson’s fully general knowledge rule to Hindriks’s restricted moral norm.
  6. The Knowledge Rule and the Action Rule.Brian Ball - 2014 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 52 (4):552-574.
    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: (...)
  7. Deriving the Norm of Assertion.Brian Ball - 2014 - Journal of Philosophical Research 39:75-85.
    Frank Hindriks has attempted to derive a variant of Timothy Williamson’s knowledge rule for assertion on the basis of a more fundamental belief expression analysis of that speech act. I show that his attempted derivation involves a crucial equivocation between two senses of ‘must,’ and therefore fails. I suggest two possible repairs; but I argue that even if they are successful, we should prefer Williamson’s fully general knowledge rule to Hindriks’s restricted moral norm.
  8. Speech Acts: Natural or Normative Kinds? The Case of Assertion.Brian Ball - 2014 - Mind and Language 29 (3):336-350.
    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 article 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 consideration of (...)
  9. Knowledge, Assertion, and Inference.Peter Baumann - 2014 - Acta Analytica 29 (4):487-490.
    This paper argues that three plausible principles are mutually inconsistent: One ought to assert only what one knows; If it is proper to assert some proposition q, then it is, barring special and not very common circumstances, proper to assert any proposition p from which q has been competently inferred; and Some propositions are both properly assertible and known by competent inference from propositions which one does not know. Each pair of two principles constitutes an argument against the remaining principle, (...)
  10. Factivity and Contextualism.Peter Baumann - 2010 - Analysis 70 (1):82-89.
    (No abstract is available for this citation).
  11. Contextualism and the Factivity Problem.Peter Baumann - 2008 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 76 (3):580–602.
    Epistemological contextualism - the claim that the truth-value of knowledge-attributions can vary with the context of the attributor - has recently faced a whole series of objections. The most serious one, however, has not been discussed much so far: the factivity objection. In this paper, I explain what the objection is and present three different versions of the objection. I then show that there is a good way out for the contextualist. However, in order to solve the problem the contextualist (...)
  12. Lying, Belief, and Knowledge.Matthew A. Benton - forthcoming - In Jörg Meibauer (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Lying. Oxford University Press.
    What is the relationship between lying, belief, and knowledge? Prominent accounts of lying define it in terms of belief, namely telling someone something one believes to be false, often with the intent to deceive. This paper develops a novel account of lying by deriving evaluative dimensions of responsibility from the knowledge norm of assertion. Lies are best understood as special cases of vicious assertion; lying is the anti-paradigm of proper assertion. This enables an account of lying in terms of knowledge: (...)
  13. Gricean Quality.Matthew A. Benton - 2016 - Noûs 50:689-703.
    Some philosophers oppose recent arguments for the Knowledge Norm 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 (...)
  14. Expert Opinion and Second‐Hand Knowledge.Matthew A. Benton - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 92 (2):492-508.
    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 (...)
  15. Knowledge Norms.Matthew A. Benton - 2014 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:nn-nn.
    Encyclopedia entry covering the growing literature on the Knowledge Norm of Assertion (and its rivals), the Knowledge Norm of Action (and pragmatic encroachment), the Knowledge Norm of Belief, and the Knowledge Norm of Disagreement.
  16. Believing on Authority.Matthew A. Benton - 2014 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 6 (4):133-144.
    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.
  17. Dubious Objections From Iterated Conjunctions.Matthew A. Benton - 2013 - 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 (...)
  18. Assertion, Knowledge and Predictions.Matthew A. Benton - 2012 - 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.
  19. Two More for the Knowledge Account of Assertion.Matthew A. Benton - 2011 - Analysis 71 (4):684-687.
    The Knowledge Norm or 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.
  20. Iffy Predictions and Proper Expectations.Matthew A. Benton & John Turri - 2014 - 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 (...)
  21. Knowledge Norms: Assertion, Action, and Belief.Matthew Aaron Benton - unknown
    Over the last decade epistemology has seen an explosion of interest in the idea that knowledge provides a normative constraint on actions or mental state (such as belief). Typically, appeal is made to a norm or rule of permission such that knowledge is required, as a necessary condition, for permissibly acting or being in that state: one must act, or be in that state, only if one knows a relevantly specified proposition. The three most prominent proposals have been that knowledge (...)
  22. Reinforcing the Knowledge Account of Assertion.Martijn Blaauw - 2012 - 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’.
  23. Unsafe Assertions.Martijn Blaauw & Jeroen de Ridder - 2012 - 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.
  24. A Warranted-Assertability Defense of a Moorean Response to Skepticism.Tim Black - 2008 - 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 (...)
  25. Contextualism and the Knowledge Norms.Michael Blome-Tillmann - 2013 - 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 (...)
  26. Peirce on Assertion, Speech Acts, and Taking Responsibility.Kenneth Boyd - 2016 - Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 52 (1):21.
    C.S. Peirce held what is nowadays called a “commitment view” of assertion. According to this type of view, assertion is a kind of act that is determined by its “normative effects”: by asserting a proposition one undertakes certain commitments, typically to be able to provide reason to believe what one is asserting, or, in Peirce’s words, one “takes responsibility” for the truth of the proposition one asserts. Despite being an early adopter of the view, if Peirce’s commitment view of assertion (...)
  27. Assertion, Practical Reasoning, and Epistemic Separabilism.Kenneth Boyd - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (7):1907-1927.
    I argue here for a view I call epistemic separabilism , which states that there are two different ways we can be evaluated epistemically when we assert a proposition or treat a proposition as a reason for acting: one in terms of whether we have adhered to or violated the relevant epistemic norm, and another in terms of how epistemically well-positioned we are towards the fact that we have either adhered to or violated said norm. ES has been appealed to (...)
  28. Contextualism, Relativism, and the Semantics of Knowledge Ascriptions.Elke Brendel - 2014 - 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 (...)
  29. Towards a Eudaimonistic Virtue Epistemology.Berit Brogaard - forthcoming - In Abrol Fairweather (ed.), Naturalizing Virtue Epistemology. Synthese Library.
  30. Intellectual Flourishing as the Fundamental Epistemic Norm.Berit Brogaard - 2014 - In C. Littlejohn & J. Turri (eds.), Epistemic Norms. Oxford University Press.
    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 (...)
  31. Assertions Only?Ben Bronner - 2013 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 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 (...)
  32. Cognitive Diversity and Epistemic Norms.Jessica Brown - 2013 - Philosophical Issues 23 (1):326-342.
  33. Assertion and Practical Reasoning: Common or Divergent Epistemic Standards?Jessica Brown - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (1):123-157.
  34. Fallibilism and the Knowledge Norm for Assertion and Practical Reasoning.Jessica Brown - 2011 - In Jessica Brown & Herman Cappelen (eds.), Assertion: New Philosophical Essays. Oxford University Press.
  35. Knowledge and Assertion.Jessica Brown - 2010 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81 (3):549-566.
  36. The Knowledge Norm for Assertion.Jessica Brown - 2008 - Philosophical Issues 18 (1):89-103.
  37. Contextualism and Warranted Assertibility Manoeuvres.Jessica Brown - 2006 - 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, (...)
  38. Assertion: New Philosophical Essays.Jessica Brown & Herman Cappelen (eds.) - 2011 - 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.
  39. The Elusive Virtues of Contextualism.Anthony Brueckner - 2004 - Philosophical Studies 118 (3):401-405.
  40. The Shifting Content of Knowledge Attributions.Anthony Brueckner - 1994 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 54 (1):123 - 126.
    In "Contextualism and Knowledge Attributions," Keith DeRose defends a contextualist theory of knowledge.' He claims that his theory is superior to some earlier "relevant alternatives" theories in respect of its proper handling of issues concerning the meaning of knowledge attributions. I think that some of DeRose's key claims on this score are mistaken.
  41. Telling, Showing and Knowing: A Unified Theory of Pedagogical Norms.Wesley Buckwalter & John Turri - 2014 - Analysis 74 (1):16-20.
    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 (...)
  42. Faultless Disagreement and the Knowledge Account of Assertion.F. A. I. Buekens - 2009 - Logique Et Analyse 208:389-407.
  43. Contextualism, Closure, and the Knowledge Account of Assertion.Christopher Buford - 2009 - 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.
  44. Contextualism, Closure, and the Knowledge Account of Assertion.Christopher Buford - 2009 - 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.
  45. Against Assertion.Herman Cappelen - 2011 - 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 (...)
  46. Knowledge, Assertion and Intellectual Humility.Carter J. Adam & C. Gordon Emma - unknown
    This paper has two central aims. First, we motivate a puzzle. The puzzle features four independently plausible but jointly inconsistent claims. One of the four claims is the sufficiency leg of the knowledge norm of assertion, according to which one is properly epistemically positioned to assert that p if one knows that p. Second, we propose that rejecting is the best way out of the puzzle. Our argument to this end appeals to the epistemic value of intellectual humility in social-epistemic (...)
  47. Knowledge, Assertion and Intellectual Humility.Carter J. Adam & C. Gordon Emma - unknown
    This paper has two central aims. First, we motivate a puzzle. The puzzle features four independently plausible but jointly inconsistent claims. One of the four claims is the sufficiency leg of the knowledge norm of assertion, according to which one is properly epistemically positioned to assert that p if one knows that p. Second, we propose that rejecting is the best way out of the puzzle. Our argument to this end appeals to the epistemic value of intellectual humility in social-epistemic (...)
  48. Knowledge, Assertion and Intellectual Humility.Carter J. Adam & C. Gordon Emma - unknown
    This paper has two central aims. First, we motivate a puzzle. The puzzle features four independently plausible but jointly inconsistent claims. One of the four claims is the sufficiency leg of the knowledge norm of assertion, according to which one is properly epistemically positioned to assert that p if one knows that p. Second, we propose that rejecting is the best way out of the puzzle. Our argument to this end appeals to the epistemic value of intellectual humility in social-epistemic (...)
  49. Assertion, Uniqueness and Epistemic Hypocrisy.J. Adam Carter - forthcoming - Synthese:1-14.
    Pascal Engel (2008) has insisted that a number of notable strategies for rejecting the knowledge norm of assertion are put forward on the basis of the wrong kinds of reasons. A central aim of this paper will be to establish the contrast point: I argue that one very familiar strategy for defending the knowledge norm of assertion—viz., that it is claimed to do better in various respects than its competitors (e.g. the justification and the truth norms)— relies on a presupposition (...)
  50. Assertion, Uniqueness and Epistemic Hypocrisy.J. Adam Carter - unknown
    Engel has insisted that a number of notable strategies for rejecting the knowledge norm of assertion are put forward on the basis of the wrong kinds of reasons. A central aim of this paper will be to establish the contrast point: I argue that one very familiar strategy for defending the knowledge norm of assertion—viz., that it is claimed to do better in various respects than its competitors —relies on a presupposition that is shown to be ultimately under-motivated. That presupposition (...)
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