Rachel McKinnon
College of Charleston
There’s a widespread conviction in the norms of assertion literature that an agent’s asserting something false merits criticism. As Williamson puts it, asserting something false is likened to cheating at the game of assertion. Most writers on the topic have consequently proposed factive norms of assertion – ones on which truth is a necessary condition for the proper performance of an assertion. However, I argue that this view is mistaken. I suggest that we can illuminate the error by introducing a theoretical distinction between the norm of a practice and its goal. In light of this distinction, we can see that proponents of factive norms tend to mistake the goal of a practice for the norm. In making my case, I present an analogy between the norms and goals of placing wagers and the norms and goals of assertion. One may place a bet and lose without being subject to criticism, while one may win and be worthy of criticism. Whether one wins or loses is irrelevant to the normative evaluation of a bet. What is relevant is whether the bet maximizes the bettor's expected value, which is a function of what might be lost, what might be gained, and how likely those prospects are, given the bettor's evidence. Similarly, I argue, whether one's assertion is true or false is not strictly relevant to the normative evaluation of an assertion. What is relevant is whether the speaker has adequate supporting reasons for the assertion, and that the necessary conventional and pragmatic features are present. However, context will determine what count as supportive reasons for a given proposition, what counts as relevant, and what count as conventional and pragmatic elements possessing that relevance. My proposed norm, the Supportive Reasons Norm, is thus sensitive to the context of assertion and shifts from context to context.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 60,992
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Supportive Reasons Norm of Assertion.Rachel McKinnon - 2013 - American Philosophical Quarterly 50 (2):121-135.
Assertions Only?Ben Bronner - 2013 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 2 (1):44-52.
Assertion and Relative Truth.Ramiro Caso - 2014 - Synthese 191 (6):1309-1325.
In What Sense is Knowledge the Norm of Assertion?Pascal Engel - 2008 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 77 (1):45-59.
Representing Yourself as Knowing.Christopher McCammon - 2014 - American Philosophical Quarterly 51 (2):133-144.
Knowledge and Suberogatory Assertion.John Turri - 2013 - Philosophical Studies (3):1-11.


Added to PP index

Total views
89 ( #117,629 of 2,439,394 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #282,750 of 2,439,394 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes