Representing Yourself as Knowing

American Philosophical Quarterly 51 (2):133-144 (2014)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Lots of folks nowadays think there is an intimate connection between what we assert and what we know. Talk of this connection is largely oriented around Timothy Williamson’s claim that you shouldn’t assert p unless you know p. Hereafter, I will treat this claim as follows: (KNA) Don’t assert that p unless so asserting expresses your knowledge that p. (KNA) is for “Knowledge Norm of Assertion”. A primary aim here is to defend the KNA. However, getting in the best position to do so requires attention to an older strain in the discussion of how knowledge and assertion are interrelated. This older strain is oriented less around explicit norms of assertion, and more around what assertion does. Said G.E. Moore, “by asserting p positively you imply, though you don’t assert, that you know that p” (1962: 277). Peter Unger put it this way: “If someone asserts, states, or declares that something is so, then it follows that he represents himself as knowing that it is so” (1975: 253). I will abbreviate this claim as (ARK) Asserting that p represents the speaker as knowing that p. (ARK) for “Assertion Represents Knowledge”. The central contention of this paper is this: if ARK is true, we should accept the KNA too. S shouldn’t assert that p unless p expresses S’s knowledge because, given ARK, when S asserts that p, S gives her interlocutors entitlement to infer that S knows that p. An assertion that p that does not express knowledge that p is thus defective, however blameless or praiseworthy it may be for other reasons. (As we’ll see, you can accomplish noble, worthy things through infelicitous assertions.) The argument will proceed as follows. §1 musters some of the best evidence for thinking that ARK is true. Some of this evidence is re-appropriated from arguments for the KNA; yet more is extracted from proposed counterexamples to the KNA that (plausibly) apply ARK. §2 builds on Ishani Maitra’s (2011) treatment of constitutive rules to make the case for treating ARK, rather than the KNA, as the constitutive rule of assertion. §3 builds on the results of the previous sections to show the advantages of a KNA grounded in ARK.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,953

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

The status of the knowledge account of assertion.Frank Hindriks - 2007 - Linguistics and Philosophy 30 (3):393-406.
Dubious assertions.David Sosa - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 146 (2):269 - 272.
Moorean Sentences and the Norm of Assertion.Michael J. Shaffer - 2012 - Logos and Episteme 3 (4):653-658.
The Express Knowledge Account of Assertion.John Turri - 2011 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (1):37-45.
Assertion, knowledge, and action.Ishani Maitra & Brian Weatherson - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 149 (1):99-118.
In what sense is knowledge the Norm of assertion?Pascal Engel - 2008 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 77 (1):45-59.
Knowledge and suberogatory assertion.John Turri - 2013 - Philosophical Studies (3):1-11.
The Supportive Reasons Norm of Assertion.Rachel McKinnon - 2013 - American Philosophical Quarterly 50 (2):121-135.
Assertion, knowledge and predictions.Matthew Benton - 2012 - Analysis 72 (1):102-105.
Irksome assertions.Rachel McKinnon & John Turri - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 166 (1):123-128.


Added to PP

30 (#549,698)

6 months
3 (#1,045,430)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Christopher McCammon
Tidewater Community College

Citations of this work

Assertion remains strong.Peter van Elswyk & Matthew A. Benton - 2023 - Philosophical Studies 180 (1):27-50.
How to Understand Rule-Constituted Kinds.Manuel García-Carpintero - 2021 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 13 (1):7-27.
The norm of assertion: a ‘constitutive’ rule?Neri Marsili - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-22.
Assertion.Peter Pagin & Neri Marsili - 2021 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Assertion, Implicature, and Iterated Knowledge.Eliran Haziza - 2021 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 8.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references