A non‐normative account of assertion

Ratio 32:53-62 (2019)

Abstract

Many contemporary philosophers argue that assertion is governed by an epistemic norm. In particular, many defend the knowledge account of assertion, which says that one should assert only what one knows. Here, I defend a non‐normative alternative to the knowledge account that I call the repK account of assertion. According to the repK account, assertion represents knowledge, but it is not governed by a constitutive epistemic rule. I show that the repK account offers a more straightforward interpretation of the conversational patterns and intuitions that motivate the knowledge account. It does so in terms of ordinary normative principles that philosophers already accept, none of which are constitutive to assertion. I then contend that the repK account is preferable to the knowledge account because it is simpler, its implications are less contentious, and it avoids a problem for normative accounts of assertion recently raised by Peter Pagin. I also argue that the repK account offers a satisfying explanation of selfless assertion, a counterexample to the knowledge account posed by Jennifer Lackey.

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Dylan Black
Xi'an Jiao Tong University

References found in this work

Knowledge and Its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Philosophy 76 (297):460-464.
Knowledge and Practical Interests.Jason Stanley - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (1):180-187.
Norms of Assertion.Jennifer Lackey - 2007 - Noûs 41 (4):594–626.
Assertion, Knowledge, and Context.Keith DeRose - 2002 - Philosophical Review 111 (2):167-203.
Assertion, Knowledge, and Rational Credibility.Igor Douven - 2006 - Philosophical Review 115 (4):449-485.

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Citations of this work

Assertion Remains Strong.Peter van Elswyk & Matthew A. Benton - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-24.
Assertion.Peter Pagin & Neri Marsili - 2021 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Assertion, Implicature, and Iterated Knowledge.Eliran Haziza - forthcoming - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.

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