Norms of Assertion

Jonathan L. Kvanvig

in Assertion

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199573004
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595127 | DOI:
Norms of Assertion

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Recent times have seen an explosion of interest in the question of what conditions need to be satisfied by an assertion for it to pass scrutiny from a purely cognitive or intellectual point of view. This level of interest is due primary to Timothy Williamson's defense of the knowledge norm, according to which one shouldn't say what one doesn't know to be true. Williamson's position has been endorsed by a number of important epistemologists, but remains controversial. All parties to this controversy recognize the defeasible character of norms of assertion: if someone's life is at stake, violating a norm of assertion is a legitimate cost to be born. The implications of such defeasibility, however, are deeper than the literature acknowledges. The chapter argues that a proper appreciation of the defeasible character of norms of assertion, together with an adequate account of the fundamental questions regarding action and belief, place constraints on the kinds of arguments that can be used to argue in favor of one view over the others. The favored considerations are just those Williamson cites in favor the knowledge norm, but the chapter argues that these considerations, viewed through the lens of the fundamental questions regarding action and belief, favor a justification norm instead.

Keywords: defeasibility; justification; norms of assertion; internalism

Chapter.  9821 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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