Selfless assertions: some empirical evidence

Synthese 192 (4):1221-1233 (2015)
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Abstract

It is increasingly recognized that knowledge is the norm of assertion. As this view has gained popularity, it has also garnered criticism. One widely discussed criticism involves thought experiments about “selfless assertion.” Selfless assertions are said to be intuitively compelling examples where agents should assert propositions that they don’t even believe and, hence, don’t know. This result is then taken to show that knowledge is not the norm of assertion. This paper reports four experiments demonstrating that “selfless assertors” are viewed as both believing and knowing the propositions they assert: this is the natural and intuitive way of interpreting the case. Thought experiments about selfless assertions do not threaten the knowledge account and they do not motivate weaker alternative accounts. The discussion also highlights a general lesson for philosophers: thought experiments intended to probe for mental state attributions should not conflict with basic principles that guide social cognition

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John Turri
University of Waterloo

Citations of this work

Assertion remains strong.Peter van Elswyk & Matthew A. Benton - 2023 - Philosophical Studies 180 (1):27-50.
Experimental work on the norms of assertion.John Turri - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (7):e12425.
Group Assertions and Group Lies.Neri Marsili - 2023 - Topoi 42 (2):369-384.

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References found in this work

Knowledge and its limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 64 (1):200-201.
Knowledge and Its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2003 - Philosophical Quarterly 53 (210):105-116.
Norms of assertion.Jennifer Lackey - 2007 - Noûs 41 (4):594–626.

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