The knowledge norm of assertion in dialectical context

Ratio 33 (4):295-306 (2020)
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This paper aims to show that the Knowledge Norm of Assertion (KNA) leads to trouble in certain dialectical contexts. Suppose a person knows that p but does not know that she knows that p. She asserts p in compliance with the KNA. Her interlocutor responds: “but do you know that p?” It will be shown that the KNA blocks the original asserter from providing any good response to this perfectly natural follow-up question, effectively forcing her to retract p from the conversational scoreboard. This finding is not simply of theoretical interest: I will argue that the KNA would allow the retort “but do you know that p?” to be weaponized in strategic communication, serving as a tool for silencing speakers without having to challenge their testimonial contributions on their own merits. Our analysis can thereby provide a new dimension to the study of epistemic injustice, and underscores the importance of considering the norms governing speech acts also from the point of view of non-ideal social contexts.



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Endre Begby
Simon Fraser University

Citations of this work

Assertion.Peter Pagin & Neri Marsili - 2021 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

Scorekeeping in a language game.David Lewis - 1979 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 8 (1):339--359.
Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 64 (1):200-201.
Knowledge and Lotteries.John Hawthorne - 2005 - Philosophical Quarterly 55 (219):353-356.

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