This book is about the norms of the speech act of assertion. This is a topic of lively contemporary debate primarily carried out in epistemology and philosophy of language. Suppose that you ask me what time an upcoming meeting starts, and I say, “4 p.m.” I’ve just asserted that the meeting starts at 4 p.m. Whenever we make claims like this, we’re asserting. The central question here is whether we need to know what we say, and, relatedly, whether (...) what we assert must be true. If the meeting is really at 3:30 p.m., you’ll be late, and probably rather upset that I told you the wrong time. In some sense, it seems like I’m on the hook for having said something false. This sense that I’ve done something wrong suggests that there are certain standards of evaluating assertions: a way of distinguishing between good and bad, appropriate and inappropriate. We call these standards norms. And so the debate about what, if any, norms govern the linguistic practice of assertion is known as the norms of assertion debate. When one’s assertion satisfies the norm, we say that the assertion is warranted. -/- Various philosophers have typically focused their views of the norms of assertion on articulating the level of epistemic support required for properly asserting. Some argue, for example, that one must know what one asserts. Others argue that one merely needs to justifiably believe what one asserts–an epistemic standing weaker than knowledge. The purpose of this book is to defend what I propose as the central norm governing our practice of assertion, which I call the Supportive Reasons Norm. Here’s what it looks like: -/- One may assert that p only if: One has supportive reasons for p, The relevant conventional and pragmatic elements of the context are present, and One asserts that p at least in part because the assertion that p satisfies and. -/- In rough outline, the standards for warrantedly asserting shift with changes in context, although knowledge is never required for warrantedly asserting. In fact, in some special contexts, speakers may warrantedly lie. This latter feature particularly sets apart my view from others in the debate. This also means that truth, knowledge, and even belief aren’t necessary conditions for warrantedly asserting. (shrink)
The purpose of the present chapter is to survey the work on epistemic norms of action, practical deliberation and assertion and to consider how these norms are interrelated. On a more constructive note, we will argue that if there are important similarities between the epistemic norms of action and assertion, it has important ramifications for the debates over speech acts and harm. Thus, we hope that the chapter will indicate how thinking about assertions as a (...) speech act can benefit from a broader action theoretic setting. We will proceed as follows. In Section 2, we provide a survey of epistemic norms of action and practical deliberation. In Section 3, we turn to the epistemic norms of assertion. In Section 4, we consider arguments for and against commonality of the epistemic norms of actions, practical deliberation and assertion. In Section 5, we discuss some of the ramifications of the debates over epistemic norms of assertion such as whether they may be extended to other linguistic phenomena such as Gricean implicature. In Section 6, we consider the consequences of the debate about the epistemic norms of action and practical deliberation for debates about speech and harm. (shrink)
Epistemologists can be divided into two camps: those who think that nothing short of certainty or (subjective) probability 1 can warrant assertion and those who disagree with this claim. This paper addressed this issue by inquiring into the problem of setting the probability threshold required for assertion in such a way that that the social epistemic good is maximized, where the latter is taken to be the veritistic value in the sense of Goldman (Knowledge in a social world, (...) 1999). We provide a Bayesian model of a test case involving a community of inquirers in a social network engaged in group deliberation regarding the truth or falsity of a proposition $p.$ p . Results obtained by means of computer simulation indicate that the certainty rule is optimal in the limit of inquiry and communication but that a lower threshold is preferable in less idealized cases. (shrink)
What is the relationship between the epistemic norms of assertion and the epistemic norms of action/practical reasoning? Brown argues that the standards for practical reasoning and assertion are distinct (Brown 2012). In contrast, Montminy argues that practical reasoning and assertion must be governed by the same norm (Montminy 2012). Likewise, McKinnon has articulated an argument for a unified account from cases of isolated second-hand knowledge (McKinnon 2012). To clarify the issue, I articulate a distinction between (...) Equivalence Commonality and Structural Commonality. I then argue against the former by counterexamples that doubly dissociate the standards for assertion and action. Furthermore, I argue that such a double dissociation compromises knowledge accounts of both assertion and action/practical reasoning. To provide a more accurate diagnosis, I consider speech act theory and argue that principled differences between the norms of action and assertion compromise Equivalence Commonality. In contrast, a qualified version of Structural Commonality may be preserved. (shrink)
This chapter discusses norms of assertion. I defend the view that the sole constitutive norm of assertion is that you should not assert what you do not believe. I also discuss the views of some--e.g. Grice, Williamson--who have defended the stronger view that the sole constitutive norm of assertion is that you should not assert what you do not know.
Communication is essential to human society, and assertion is central to communication. This article reviews evidence from life science, cognitive science, and philosophy relevant to understanding how our social practice of assertion is structured and sustained. The principal conclusion supported by this body of evidence is that knowledge is a central norm of assertion—that is, according to the rules of the practice, assertions should express knowledge.
The view that truth is the norm of assertion has fallen out of fashion. The recent trend has been to think that knowledge is the norm of assertion. Objections to the knowledge view proceed almost exclusively by appeal to alleged counterexamples. While it no doubt has a role to play, such a strategy relies on intuitions concerning hypothetical cases, intuitions which might not be shared and which might shift depending on how the relevant cases are fleshed out. In (...) this paper, I reject the knowledge view on principled grounds. More specifically, by appeal to a principle which is motivated independently of the debate over the norms of assertion and which is already accepted by many proponents of the knowledge view, I show the knowledge view to be false while simultaneously accounting for why it might seem to be true. In doing so, I provide a novel defence of the unfashionable truth view. (shrink)
We show that the contemporary debate surrounding the question “What is the norm of assertion?” presupposes what we call the quantitative view, i.e. the view that this question is best answered by determining how much epistemic support is required to warrant assertion. We consider what Jennifer Lackey ( 2010 ) has called cases of isolated second-hand knowledge and show—beyond what Lackey has suggested herself—that these cases are best understood as ones where a certain type of understanding , rather (...) than knowledge, constitutes the required epistemic credential to warrant assertion. If we are right that understanding (and not just knowledge) is the epistemic norm for a restricted class of assertions, then this straightforwardly undercuts not only the widely supposed quantitative view, but also a more general presupposition concerning the universalisability of some norm governing assertion—the presumption (almost entirely unchallenged since Williamson’s 1996 paper) that any epistemic norm that governs some assertions should govern assertions—as a class of speech act—uniformly. (shrink)
In this paper I draw attention to a number of problems that afflict norm accounts of assertion, i.e. accounts that explain what assertion is, and typically how speakers understand what assertion is, by appeal to a norm of assertion. I argue that the disagreements in the literature over norm selection undermines such an account of understanding. I also argue that the treatment of intuitions as evidence in the literature undermines much of the connection to empirical evidence. (...) I further argue that appeals made to conversational patterns do not require the existence of any norms at all. (shrink)
An account of the norms of assertion is proposed which is supported by the same considerations that motivate the familiar knowledge account of those norms, but does not have a problematic consequence of the latter. This alternative account is defended against others to be found in the literature, and some larger epistemological issues it raises are considered briefly.
According to assurance views of testimonial justification, in virtue of the act of testifying a speaker provides an assurance of the truth of what she asserts to the addressee. This assurance provides a special justificatory force and a distinctive normative status to the addressee. It is thought to explain certain asymmetries between addressees and other unintended hearers (bystanders and eavesdroppers), such as the phenomenon that the addressee has a right to blame the speaker for conveying a falsehood but unintended hearers (...) do not, and the phenomenon that the addressee may deflect challenges to his testimonial belief to the speaker but unintended hearers may not. Here I argue that we can do a better job explaining the normative statuses associated with testimony by reference to epistemic norms of assertion and privacy norms. Following Sanford Goldberg, I argue that epistemic norms of assertion, according to which sincere assertion is appropriate only when the asserter possesses certain epistemic goods, can be ‘put to work’ to explain the normative statuses associated with testimony. When these norms are violated, they give hearers the right to blame the speaker, and they also explain why the speaker takes responsibility for the justification of the statement asserted. Norms of privacy, on the other hand, directly exclude eavesdroppers and bystanders from an informational exchange, implying that they have no standing to do many of the things, such as issue challenges or questions to the speaker, that would be normal for conversational participants. This explains asymmetries of normative status associated with testimony in a way logically independent of speaker assurance. (shrink)
Why is it that we cannot legitimately make certain aesthetic assertions – for instance that ‘Guernica is harrowing’ or that ‘The Rite of Spring is strangely beautiful’ – on the basis of testimony alone? In this paper I consider a species of argument intended to demonstrate that the best explanation for the impermissibility of such assertions is that a particular view of the norms of aesthetic belief – pessimism concerning aesthetic testimony – is correct. I begin by outlining the (...) strongest instance of such ‘arguments from assertion’ and demonstrating that it presents a powerful motivation for embracing pessimism; the view that it is illegitimate to form aesthetic beliefs on the basis of testimony alone. I then go on to argue that, appearances notwithstanding, the pessimist’s opponents – optimists concerning aesthetic testimony – are able to provide an explanation for the impermissibility of these assertions which is at least as good as, and in some respects better than, that offered by their pessimist. The explanation I propose draws on some important work on signalling in aesthetics, by Denis Dutton and others, to argue that the problem with such assertions is closely parallel to the problem Dutton claims is generated by forgeries. Those making such assertions misrepresent a piece of aesthetic labour as their own, when, in fact, it is the work of another. I also explore the wider implications of this view for debates in aesthetic epistemology and beyond. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
What is the epistemic position that a scientist must be in vis-à-vis a proposition, p, to be in a good enough epistemic position to assert that p to a fellow scientist within the scientific process? My aim is to provide an answer to this question and, more generally, to connect the epistemological debates about the epistemic norms of assertion to the debates about the nature of the scientific process. The question is important because science is a collaborative enterprise (...) based on a division of labor. It has even been suggested that such collaboration is a part of the scientific method. However, scientific collaboration depends upon communication between scientists—that is, intra-scientific testimony. After distinguishing some different kinds of intra-scientific testimony, I provide a specific proposal for an epistemic norm of assertion that generally governs such testimony. I argue that the proposal aligns with the requirements of three scientific virtues—replicability, revisability, and accountability. The discussion of replicability considers a prominent debate in the social and cognitive sciences. In conclusion, I consider some of the wider questions raised by characterizing scientific collaboration, division of labor, and more generally, scientific method via intra-scientific testimony. (shrink)
The knowledge and attendant justification norms of belief and assertion serve to regulate our doxastic attitudes towards, and practices of asserting, various propositions. I argue that conforming to these norms under conditions of religious ignorance promotes responsible acts of assertion, epistemic humility, and non–dogmatic doxastic attitudes towards the content of one’s own faith. Such conformity also facilitates the formation of the religious personality in a healthy direction in other ways. I explore these ideas in relation to (...) the Christian faith tradition, but my reflections generalize. (shrink)
Assertions are speech acts by means of which we express beliefs. As such they are at the heart of our linguistic and social practices. Recent research has focused extensively on the question whether the speech act of assertion is governed by norms, and if so, under what conditions it is acceptable to make an assertion. Standard theories propose, for instance, that one should only assert that p if one knows that p (the knowledge account), or that one (...) should only assert that p if p is true (the truth account). In a series of four experiments, this question is addressed empirically. Contrary to previous findings, knowledge turns out to be a poor predictor of assertability, and the norm of assertion is not factive either. The studies here presented provide empirical evidence in favour of the view that a speaker is warranted to assert that p only if her belief that p is justified. (shrink)
This paper was written for a workshop on ethics and epistemology at Missouri. I use an example from unpublished work with Ishani Maitra to develop a new kind of argument for expressivism. (I don’t endorse the argument, but I think it is interesting.) Roughly, the argument is that knowledge is a norm governing assertions, but moral claims do not have to be known to be properly made, so to make a moral claim is not to make an assertion. Some (...) suggestions are made for how a non-expressivist might avoid the argument. (shrink)
Here I advance a unified account of the structure of the epistemic normativity of assertion, action, and belief. According to my Teleological Account, all of these are epistemically successful just in case they fulfill the primary aim of knowledgeability, an aim which in turn generates a host of secondary epistemic norms. The central features of the Teleological Account are these: it is compact in its reliance on a single central explanatory posit, knowledge-centered in its insistence that knowledge sets (...) the fundamental epistemic norm, and yet fiercely pluralistic in its acknowledgment of the legitimacy and value of a rich range of epistemic norms distinct from knowledge. Largely in virtue of this pluralist character, I argue, the Teleological Account is far superior to extant knowledge-centered accounts. (shrink)
Language is a human universal reflecting our deeply social nature. Among its essential functions, language enables us to quickly and efficiently share information. We tell each other that many things are true—that is, we routinely make assertions. Information shared this way plays a critical role in the decisions and plans we make. In Knowledge and the Norm of Assertion, a distinguished philosopher and cognitive scientist investigates the rules or norms that structure our social practice of assertion. Combining (...) evidence from philosophy, psychology, and biology, John Turri shows that knowledge is the central norm of assertion and explains why knowledge plays this role. -/- Concise, comprehensive, non-technical, and thoroughly accessible, this volume quickly brings readers to the cutting edge of a major research program at the intersection of philosophy and science. It presupposes no philosophical or scientific training. It will be of interest to philosophers and scientists, is suitable for use in graduate and undergraduate courses, and will appeal to general readers interested in human nature, social cognition, and communication. (shrink)
In this paper I present my proposal for the central norm governing the practice of assertion, which I call the Supportive Reasons Norm of Assertion (SRNA). The critical features of this norm are that it's highly sensitive to the context of assertion, such that the requirements for warrantedly asserting a proposition shift with changes in context, and that truth is not a necessary condition for warrantedly asserting. In fact, I argue that there are some cases where a (...) speaker may warrantedly assert something she knows to be false. Only SRNA seems able to account for such cases. (shrink)
Timothy Williamson has argued that, unless the speech act of assertion were supposed to be governed by his so-called Knowledge Rule, one could not explain why sentences of the form "A and I do not know that A" are unassertable. This paper advances three objections against that argument, of which the first two aim to show that, even assuming that Williamson's explanandum has been properly circumscribed, his explanation would not be correct, and the third aims to show that his (...) explanandum has not been properly circumscribed. (shrink)
Keith DeRose has argued that ‘the knowledge account of assertion – according to which what one is in a position to assert is what one knows – ... provides a ... powerful positive argument in favor of contextualism’ (2009: 80). The truth is that it yields a powerful argument against contextualism, at least against its most popular, anti-sceptical versions. The following argument shows that, if we conjoin (such versions of) epistemic contextualism with an appropriate meta-linguistic formulation of the knowledge (...) account of assertion, contextualism cannot coherently be stated. (shrink)
According to commitment accounts of assertion, asserting is committing oneself to something’s being the case, where such commitment is understood in terms of norms governing a social practice. I elaborate and compare two version of such accounts, liability accounts (associated with C.S. Peirce) and dialectical norm accounts (associated with Robert Brandom), concluding that the latter are more defensible. I argue that both versions of commitment account possess a potential advantage over rival normative accounts of assertion in that (...) they needn’t presuppose any notion of an assertion’s correctness. Additionally, I show how dialectical norm accounts can explain relations between assertion and truth. After setting forth objections that have been raised against commitment accounts, I argue that responses are available on behalf of dialectical norm accounts. Finally, I propose that a liberalized dialectical norm account can illuminate phenomena sometimes seen as supporting truth relativism. (shrink)
Sanford C. Goldberg presents a novel account of the speech act of assertion. He argues that this type of speech act is answerable to an epistemic, context-sensitive norm. On this basis he shows the philosophical importance of assertion for key debates in philosophy of language and mind, epistemology, and ethics.
An impressive case has been built for the hypothesis that knowledge is the norm of assertion, otherwise known as the knowledge account of assertion. According to the knowledge account, you should assert something only if you know that it’s true. A wealth of observational data supports the knowledge account, and some recent empirical results lend further, indirect support. But the knowledge account has not yet been tested directly. This paper fills that gap by reporting the results of such (...) a test. The knowledge account passes with flying colors. (shrink)
The paper proposes two logical analyses of (the norms of) justification. In a first, realist-minded case, truth is logically independent from justification and leads to a pragmatic logic LP including two epistemic and pragmatic operators, namely, assertion and hypothesis. In a second, antirealist-minded case, truth is not logically independent from justification and results in two logical systems of information and justification: AR4 and AR4¢, respectively, provided with a question-answer semantics. The latter proposes many more epistemic agents, each corresponding (...) to a wide variety of epistemic norms. After comparing the different norms of justification involved in these logical systems, two hexagons expressing Aristotelian relations of opposition will be gathered in order to clarify how (a fragment of) pragmatic formulas can be interpreted in a fuzzy-based question-answer semantics. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
It is increasingly argued that there is a single unified constitutive norm of both assertion and practical reasoning. The most common suggestion is that knowledge is this norm. If this is correct, then we would expect that a diagnosis of problematic assertions should manifest as problematic reasons for acting. Jennifer Lackey has recently argued that assertions epistemically grounded in isolated second-hand knowledge (ISHK) are unwarranted. I argue that decisions epistemically grounded in premises based on ISHK also seem inappropriate. I (...) finish by suggesting that this finding has important implications for the debates regarding the norms of assertion and practical reasoning. (shrink)
The oddities in lottery cases and Moore’s paradox appear to support the knowledge account of assertion, according to which one should assert only what one knows. This paper preserves an emphasis on epistemic norms but presents grounds for an alternative explanation. The alternative divides the explanandum, explaining the error in lottery and Moorean assertions with one move and their deeper incoherence with another. The error derives from a respect in which the assertions are uninformative: the speaker is not (...) being appropriately responsive to her addressee’s epistemic needs. And the incoherence derives from a deeper respect in which lottery and some (but not all) Moorean assertions are uninformative: it is difficult to see how the speaker’s assertion could express any judgment she has made or would relevantly make, since she transparently lacks epistemic authority to inform any conceivable interlocutor on the subject. This diagnosis suggests an epistemic approach not directly to assertion but to judgment. Without judging that p, how could a speaker be in the business of informing her addressee that p? If the speaker transparently lacks authority to inform anyone whether p – to give anyone her word that p – how could she without confusion count as judging that p? (shrink)
This paper focuses on Martin Montminy’s recent attempt to show that assertion and practical reasoning are necessarily governed by the same epistemic norm (“Why assertion and practical reasoning must be governed by the same epistemic norm”, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly ). I show that the attempt fails. I finish by considering the upshot for the recent debate concerning the connection between the epistemic norms of assertion and practical reasoning.
Rae Langton and Jennifer Hornsby provide accounts of how pornography silences women by appealing to J.L. Austin's account of speech-acts. Since their accounts focus only on instances of silencing where the hearer does not grasp the type of speech-act the speaker intends to perform, their accounts of silencing do not generalize to explain silencing that arises from what Miranda Fricker calls “testimonial injustice.” I argue that silencing arising from testimonial injustice can only be explained by what we shall call the (...) dialectical account of assertion, according to which assertion is the undertaking of a commitment in reasoned discourse. In doing so, I show that accounts of assertion based on speakers' intentions, proposals to common ground, and constitutive norms do not provide the necessary framework to explain silencing within the context of testimonial injustice. Having shown the strength of the dialectical account in explaining silencing, I conclude that the dialectical account also provides a way to remedy some instances of silencing arising from testimonial injustice providing further evidence that the dialectical account is the correct account of assertion. (shrink)
Pedagogy is a pillar of human culture and society. Telling each other information and showing each other how to do things comes naturally to us. A strong case has been made that declarative knowledge is the norm of assertion, which is our primary way of telling others information. This article presents an analogous case for the hypothesis that procedural knowledge is the norm of instructional demonstration, which is a primary way of showing others how to do things. Knowledge is (...) the norm of telling and showing. It is the prime pedagogical principle. (shrink)
Some philosophers oppose recent arguments for the Knowledge Norm of Assertion by claiming that assertion, being an act much like any other, will be subject to norms governing acts generally, such as those articulated by Grice for the purpose of successful, cooperative endeavours. But in fact, Grice is a traitor to their cause; or rather, they are his dissenters, not his disciples. Drawing on Grice's unpublished papers, I show that he thought of asserting as a special linguistic (...) act in need of its own norm, and he tied his maxim of Quality to knowledge. I also develop a simple Gricean-inspired argument showing that the Quality maxim is not dependent on the Cooperative Principle. If it is not thus dependent, then the Cooperative Principle cannot be the explanation of, or source of normativity for, the Quality maxim. Thus, leveraging the insights informing the maxim of Quality actually provides the resources for a distinctive positive case that knowledge is the constitutive norm of assertion. (shrink)
The knowledge account of assertion (KAA) is the view that assertion is governed by the norm that the speaker should know what s/he asserts. It is not the purpose of this article to examine all the criticisms nor to try to give a full defence of KAA, but only to defend it against the charge of being normatively incorrect. It has been objected that assertion is governed by other norms than knowledge, or by no norm at (...) all. It seems to me, however, that a number of these criticisms are based on a number of misunderstandings of the notion of a norm and of the way it can regulated a given practice. Once we spell out in what sense knowledge can play a normative role in this context, the KAA appears much more plausible. (shrink)
Alston, Searle, and Williamson advocate the restrictive model of assertion , according to which certain constitutive assertoric norms restrict which propositions one may assert. Sellars and Brandom advocate the dialectical model of assertion , which treats assertion as constituted by its role in the game of giving and asking for reasons. Sellars and Brandom develop a restrictive version of the dialectical model. I explore a non-restrictive version of the dialectical model. On such a view, constitutive assertoric (...)norms constrain how one must react if an interlocutor challenges one's assertion, but they do not constrain what one should assert in the first place. I argue that the non-restrictive dialectical perspective can accommodate various linguistic phenomena commonly taken to support the restrictive model. 1. (shrink)
Crispin Wright has argued that truth and warranted assertibility are coincident but non-co-extensive norms of assertoric practice and that this fact tends to inflate deflationary theories of truth. Wright’s inflationary argument has generated much discussion in the literature. By contrast, relatively little has been said about the claim that truth and warranted assertibility are coincident norms. This paper will examine that claim. Wright’s argument for the claim that truth and warranted assertibility are coincident norms is first clearly (...) presented. It is then suggested that the argument trades on an ambiguity in ‘justified’ and ‘warrantedly assertible’. Finally, it is argued that, once the ambiguity is removed, there is reason to reject the claim that truth and epistemic warrant are coincident norms of assertoric practice. One important result is that no epistemic theory of truth can satisfy what Wright takes to be a platitude about assertion. (shrink)
A principal challenge for a deflationary theory is to explain the value of truth: why we aim for true beliefs, abhor dishonesty, and so on. The problem arises because deflationism sees truth as a mere logical property and the truth predicate as serving primarily as a device of generalization. Paul Horwich, attempts to show how deflationism can account for the value of truth. Drawing on the work of J. L. Austin, I argue that his account, which focuses on belief, cannot (...) adequately accommodate the complex role that truth plays in the norms governing assertion and similar speech acts. (shrink)
Encyclopedia entry covering the growing literature on the Knowledge Norm of Assertion (and its rivals), the Knowledge Norm of Action (and pragmatic encroachment), the Knowledge Norm of Belief, and the Knowledge Norm of Disagreement.
There has been much recent interest in questions about epistemic norms of assertion. Is there a norm specific to assertion? Is it constitutive of the speech act? Is there a unique norm of this sort? What is its content? These are important questions, so it's understandable that they have received the attention which they have. By contrast, little attention?little separate attention, at least?has been given to parallel questions about telling: Which norm or norms govern telling, etc.? (...) A natural explanation for this disparity in interest is that it's felt generally to be obvious that there can be no significant distinction between the two types of norms, and hence no need to consider them separately. This paper challenges that general feeling. The first part argues that it's not obvious that the same norms govern assertion and telling. The second part argues that far from being obvious, this idea is mistaken: there are significant differences between the two types of norms. (shrink)
John N. Williams (1994) and Matthew Weiner (2005) invoke predictions in order to undermine the normative relevance of knowledge for assertions; in particular, Weiner argues, predictions are important counterexamples to the Knowledge Account of Assertion (KAA). I argue here that they are not true counterexamples at all, a point that can be agreed upon even by those who reject KAA.
I begin by criticizing reductionist knowledge-first epistemology according to which knowledge can be used to reductively analyze other epistemic phenomena. My central concern is that proponents of such an approach commit a similar mistake to the one that they charge their opponents with. This is the mistake of seeking to reductively analyze basic epistemic phenomena in terms of other allegedly more fundamental phenomena. I then turn to non-reductionist brands of knowledge-first epistemology. Specifically, I consider the knowledge norms of (...) class='Hi'>assertion and contrast them with an alternative that I have developed elsewhere (Gerken 2011, 2012a, 2013b, 2014, 2015a, 2015c, MS). On the basis of the critical discussion, I question whether a knowledge-first program that is both plausible and distinctive has been identified. On a more positive note, I sketch the contours of an alternative that I label ‘equilibristic epistemology.’ According to this approach, there isn’t a single epistemic phenomenon or concept that is “first.” Rather, there are a number of basic epistemic phenomena that are not reductively analyzable although they may be co-elucidated in a non-reductive manner. This approach preserves some grains of truth in knowledge-first epistemology. For example, it preserves the idea that knowledge can be taken to be explanatorily basic and unanalyzable. However, since no single epistemic phenomenon is first, knowledge is not first. (shrink)