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Knowledge and certainty

Philosophical Issues 18 (1):35-57 (2008)

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  1. Endorsement and Assertion.Will Fleisher - forthcoming - Noûs.
    Scientists, philosophers, and other researchers commonly assert their theories. This is surprising, as there are good reasons for skepticism about theories in cutting-edge research. I propose a new account of assertion in research contexts that vindicates these assertions. This account appeals to a distinct propositional attitude called endorsement, which is the rational attitude of committed advocacy researchers have to their theories. The account also appeals to a theory of conversational pragmatics known as the Question Under Discussion model, or QUD. Hence, (...)
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  • What Norm of Assertion?Casey Rebecca Johnson - 2018 - Acta Analytica 33 (1):51-67.
    I argue that the debates over which norm constitutes assertion can be abandoned by challenging the three main motivations for a constitutive norm. The first motivation is the alleged analogy between language and games. The second motivation is the intuition that some assertions are worthy of criticism. The third is the discursive responsibilities incurred by asserting. I demonstrate that none of these offer good reasons to believe in a constitutive norm of assertion, as such a norm is understood in the (...)
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  • Assertibility and Sensitivity.Geoff Pynn - 2014 - Acta Analytica 29 (1):99-117.
    Epistemologists have proposed various norms of assertion to explain when a speaker is in an epistemic position to assert a proposition. In this article I propose a distinct necessary condition on assertibility: that a speaker should assert only what she sensitively believes, where a subject's belief is sensitive just in case the subject would not hold it if it were false. I argue that the Sensitivity Rule underwrites simple explanations for three key features of assertibility that pose explanatory challenges to (...)
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  • Unassertability And The Appearance Of Ignorance.Geoff Pynn - 2014 - Episteme 11 (2):125-143.
    Whether it seems that you know something depends in part upon practical factors. When the stakes are low, it can seem to you that you know that p, but when the stakes go up it'll seem to you that you don't. The apparent sensitivity of knowledge to stakes presents a serious challenge to epistemologists who endorse a stable semantics for knowledge attributions and reject the idea that whether you know something depends on how much is at stake. After arguing that (...)
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  • Stakes Sensitivity and Credit Rating: A New Challenge for Regulators.Anthony Booth & Boudewijn de Bruin - forthcoming - Journal of Business Ethics:1-11.
    The ethical practices of credit rating agencies, particularly following the 2008 financial crisis, have been subject to extensive analysis by economists, ethicists, and policymakers. We raise a novel issue facing CRAs that has to do with a problem concerning the transmission of epistemic status of ratings from CRAs to the beneficiaries of the ratings, and use it to provide a new challenge for regulators. Building on recent work in philosophy, we argue that since CRAs have different stakes than the beneficiaries (...)
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  • Critique of Experimental Research on Selfless Assertions.Grzegorz Gaszczyk - 2019 - Diametros 16 (59):23-34.
    In this paper, I show that Turri’s (2015a) experimental study concerning selfless assertions is defective and should therefore be rejected. One performs a selfless assertion when one states something that one does not believe, and hence does not know, despite possessing well supported evidence to the contrary. Following his experimental study, Turri argues that agents in fact both believe and know the content of their selfless assertions. In response to this claim, I demonstrate that the conclusions he draws are premature (...)
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  • Moral Faith and Moral Reason.Sergio Tenenbaum - 2015 - In Sophie-Grace Chappell (ed.), Intuition, Theory, Anti-Theory in Ethics. pp. 76-103.
    Robert Adams argues that often our moral commitment outstrips what we are epistemically entitled to believe; in these cases, the virtuous agent doxastic states are instances of “moral faith”. I argue against Adams’ views on the need for moral faith; at least in some cases, our moral “intuitions” provide us with certain moral knowledge. The appearance that there can be no certainty here is the result of dubious views about second-order or indirect doubts. Nonetheless, discussing the phenomena that lead Adams (...)
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  • Asserting as Commitment to Knowing. An Essay on the Normativity of Assertion.Ivan Milić - 2015 - Dissertation, University of Barcelona
    In this thesis, I propose and defend a theory according to which committing oneself to knowing the proposition expressed counts as an assertion of that proposition. A consequence of this view is the knowledge account of assertion, according to which one asserts that p correctly only if one knows that p. In support of this approach, I offer a strategy of identifying an assertion’s “normative consequences”, types of act that normally take place as a result of one’s making an assertion (...)
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  • Assertion, Knowledge, and Action.Ishani Maitra & Brian Weatherson - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 149 (1):99-118.
    We argue against the knowledge rule of assertion, and in favour of integrating the account of assertion more tightly with our best theories of evidence and action. We think that the knowledge rule has an incredible consequence when it comes to practical deliberation, that it can be right for a person to do something that she can't properly assert she can do. We develop some vignettes that show how this is possible, and how odd this consequence is. We then argue (...)
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  • You Don't Say! Lying, Asserting and Insincerity.Neri Marsili - 2017 - Dissertation, University of Sheffield
    This thesis addresses philosophical problems concerning improper assertions. The first part considers the issue of defining lying: here, against a standard view, I argue that a lie need not intend to deceive the hearer. I define lying as an insincere assertion, and then resort to speech act theory to develop a detailed account of what an assertion is, and what can make it insincere. Even a sincere assertion, however, can be improper (e.g., it can be false, or unwarranted): in the (...)
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  • Believing Epistemic Contradictions.Beddor Bob & Simon Goldstein - 2018 - Review of Symbolic Logic (1):87-114.
    What is it to believe something might be the case? We develop a puzzle that creates difficulties for standard answers to this question. We go on to propose our own solution, which integrates a Bayesian approach to belief with a dynamic semantics for epistemic modals. After showing how our account solves the puzzle, we explore a surprising consequence: virtually all of our beliefs about what might be the case provide counterexamples to the view that rational belief is closed under logical (...)
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  • Hedged Assertion.Matthew A. Benton & Peter Van Elswyk - forthcoming - In Sanford Goldberg (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Assertion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Surprisingly little has been written about hedged assertion. Linguists often focus on semantic or syntactic theorizing about, for example, grammatical evidentials or epistemic modals, but pay far less attention to what hedging does at the level of action. By contrast, philosophers have focused extensively on normative issues regarding what epistemic position is required for proper assertion, yet they have almost exclusively considered unqualified declaratives. This essay considers the linguistic and normative issues side-by-side. We aim to bring some order and clarity (...)
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  • Silencing and Assertion.Alessandra Tanesini - 2019 - In Sanford Goldberg (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Assertion. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press.
    Theories of assertion must explain how silencing is possible. This chapter defends an account of assertion in terms of normative commitments on the grounds that it provides the most plausible analysis of how individuals might be silenced when attempting to make assertions. The chapter first offers an account of the nature of silencing and defends the view that it can occur even in contexts where speakers’ communicative intentions are understood by their audience. Second, it outlines some of the normative commitments (...)
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  • Moore's Paradox and Assertion.Clayton Littlejohn - forthcoming - In Oxford Handbook of Assertion. Oxford University Press.
    If I were to say, “Agnes does not know that it is raining, but it is,” this seems like a perfectly coherent way of describing Agnes’s epistemic position. If I were to add, “And I don’t know if it is, either,” this seems quite strange. In this chapter, we shall look at some statements that seem, in some sense, contradictory, even though it seems that these statements can express propositions that are contingently true or false. Moore thought it was paradoxical (...)
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  • Lying and Certainty.Neri Marsili - 2018 - In Jörg Meibauer (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Lying. Oxford University Press. pp. 170-182.
    In the philosophical literature on the definition of lying, the analysis is generally restricted to cases of flat-out belief. This chapter considers the complex phenomenon of lies involving partial beliefs – beliefs ranging from mere uncertainty to absolute certainty. The first section analyses lies uttered while holding a graded belief in the falsity of the assertion, and presents a revised insincerity condition, requiring that the liar believes the assertion to be more likely to be false than true. The second section (...)
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  • Assertion, Norms, and Games.Ishani Maitra - 2011 - In Jessica Brown & Herman Cappelen (eds.), Assertion: New Philosophical Essays. Oxford University Press. pp. 277--296.
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  • Recent Work on Assertion.Sanford C. Goldberg - 2015 - American Philosophical Quarterly 52 (4):365-380.
    This paper reviews recent philosophical work on assertion, with a special focus on work exploring the theme of assertion's norm. It concludes with a brief section characterizing several open questions that might profitably be explored from this perspective.
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  • Justification as Faultlessness.Bob Beddor - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (4):901-926.
    According to deontological approaches to justification, we can analyze justification in deontic terms. In this paper, I try to advance the discussion of deontological approaches by applying recent insights in the semantics of deontic modals. Specifically, I use the distinction between weak necessity modals and strong necessity modals to make progress on a question that has received surprisingly little discussion in the literature, namely: ‘What’s the best version of a deontological approach?’ The two most obvious hypotheses are the Permissive View, (...)
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  • Knowledge and the Norm of Assertion: An Essay in Philosophical Science.John Turri - 2016 - Cambridge: Open Book Publishers.
    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, (...)
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  • The Argument From Divine Indifference.Jonathan Weisberg - 2012 - Analysis 72 (4):707-714.
    I argue that the rationale behind the fine-tuning argument for design is self-undermining, refuting the argument’s own premise that fine-tuning is to be expected given design. In (Weisberg 2010) I argued on informal grounds that this premise is unsupported. White (2011) countered that it can be derived from three plausible assumptions. But White’s third assumption is based on a fallacious rationale, and is even objectionable by the design theorist’s own lights. The argument that shows this, the argument from divine indifference, (...)
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  • Prompting Challenges.John Turri - 2010 - Analysis 70 (3):456-462.
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  • Hope, Knowledge, and Blindspots.Jordan Dodd - 2017 - Synthese 194 (2):531-543.
    Roy Sorensen introduced the concept of an epistemic blindspot in the 1980s. A proposition is an epistemic blindspot for some individual at some time if and only if that proposition is consistent but unknowable by that individual at that time. In the first half of this paper, I extend Sorensen work on blindspots by arguing that there exist blindspots that essentially involve hopes. In the second half, I show how such blindspots can contribute to and impair different pursuits of self-understanding. (...)
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  • Online Responsibility: Bad Samaritanism and the Influence of Internet Mediation.Saskia Polder-Verkiel - 2012 - Science and Engineering Ethics 18 (1):117-141.
    In 2008 a young man committed suicide while his webcam was running. 1,500 people apparently watched as the young man lay dying: when people finally made an effort to call the police, it was too late. This closely resembles the case of Kitty Genovese in 1964, where 39 neighbours supposedly watched an attacker assault and did not call until it was too late. This paper examines the role of internet mediation in cases where people may or may not have been (...)
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  • The Explanation Proffering Norm of Moral Assertion.Mona Simion - 2018 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (3):477-488.
    In recent years, much attention has been given to the epistemic credentials of belief based on moral testimony. Some people think pure moral deference is wrong, others disagree. It comes as a surprise, however, that while the epistemic responsibilities of the receiver of moral testimony have been closely scrutinized, little to no discussion has focused on the epistemic duties of the speaker. This paper aims to supply this lack: it defends a function-first account of the normativity of moral assertion. According (...)
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  • Knowledge and Suberogatory Assertion.John Turri - 2013 - Philosophical Studies (3):1-11.
    I accomplish two things in this paper. First I expose some important limitations of the contemporary literature on the norms of assertion and in the process illuminate a host of new directions and forms that an account of assertional norms might take. Second I leverage those insights to suggest a new account of the relationship between knowledge and assertion, which arguably outperforms the standard knowledge account.
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  • Sure the Emperor Has No Clothes, but You Shouldn’T Say That.Rachel McKinnon & Paul Simard Smith - 2013 - Philosophia 41 (3):825-829.
    In the norms of assertion literature there has been continued focus on a wide range of odd-sounding assertions that have been collected under the umbrella of Moore’s Paradox. Our aim in these brief remarks is not to attempt to settle the question of what makes an utterance Moorean decisively, but rather to present some new data bearing on it, and to argue that this new data is best explained by a new account of Moorean absurdity.
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  • Knowledge and Suberogatory Assertion.John Turri - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 167 (3):557-567.
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  • The Point of Assertion is to Transmit Knowledge.John Turri - 2016 - Analysis 76 (2):130-136.
    Recent work in philosophy and cognitive science shows that knowledge is the norm of our social practice of assertion, in the sense that an assertion should express knowledge. But why should an assertion express knowledge? I hypothesize that an assertion should express knowledge because the point of assertion is to transmit knowledge. I present evidence supporting this hypothesis.
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  • Imagination and Epistemology.Jonathan Ichikawa - 2008 - Dissertation, Rutgers University
    Among the tools the epistemologist brings to the table ought to be, I suggest, a firm understanding of the imagination--one that is informed by philosophy of mind, cognitive psychology, and neuroscience. In my dissertation, I highlight several ways in which such an understanding of the imagination can yield insight into traditional questions in epistemology. My dissertation falls into three parts. In Part I, I argue that dreaming should be understood in imaginative terms, and that this has important implications for questions (...)
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  • Irksome Assertions.Rachel McKinnon & John Turri - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 166 (1):123-128.
    The Knowledge Account of Assertion (KAA) says that knowledge is the norm of assertion: you may assert a proposition only if you know that it’s true. The primary support for KAA is an explanatory inference from a broad range of linguistic data. The more data that KAA well explains, the stronger the case for it, and the more difficult it is for the competition to keep pace. In this paper we critically assess a purported new linguistic datum, which, it has (...)
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  • It’s Not so Easy to Be a Fallibilist.Masaharu Mizumoto - 2011 - Annals of the Japan Association for Philosophy of Science 19:1-25.
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  • How to Be an Optimist About Aesthetic Testimony.Rachel McKinnon - 2017 - Episteme 14 (2):177-196.
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  • Understanding Assertion to Understand Silencing: Finding an Account of Assertion That Explains Silencing Arising From Testimonial Injustice.David C. Spewak - 2017 - Episteme 14 (4):423-440.
    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 (...)
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  • Problems with Norms of Assertion.Peter Pagin - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (1):178-207.
    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 (...)
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  • Belief is Weak.John Hawthorne, Daniel Rothschild & Levi Spectre - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (5):1393-1404.
    It is tempting to posit an intimate relationship between belief and assertion. The speech act of assertion seems like a way of transferring the speaker’s belief to his or her audience. If this is right, then you might think that the evidential warrant required for asserting a proposition is just the same as the warrant for believing it. We call this thesis entitlement equality. We argue here that entitlement equality is false, because our everyday notion of belief is unambiguously a (...)
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  • What Assertion Doesn't Show.Conor McHugh - 2012 - European Journal of Philosophy 20 (3):407-429.
    Abstract: Some recent arguments against the classical invariantist account of knowledge exploit the idea that there is a ‘knowledge norm’ for assertion. It is claimed that, given the existence of this norm, certain intuitions about assertability support contextualism, or contrastivism, over classical invariantism. In this paper I show that, even if we accept the existence of a knowledge norm, these assertability-based arguments fail. The classical invariantist can accommodate and explain the relevant intuitions about assertability, in a way that retains the (...)
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  • Knowledge, Certainty, and Assertion.John Turri - 2016 - Philosophical Psychology 29 (2):293-299.
    Researchers have debated whether knowledge or certainty is a better candidate for the norm of assertion. Should you make an assertion only if you know it's true? Or should you make an assertion only if you're certain it's true? If either knowledge or certainty is a better candidate, then this will likely have detectable behavioral consequences. I report an experiment that tests for relevant behavioral consequences. The results support the view that assertability is more closely linked to knowledge than to (...)
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  • Concessive Knowledge Attributions and Fallibilism.Clayton Littlejohn - 2011 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 83 (3):603-619.
    Lewis thought concessive knowledge attributions (e.g., ‘I know that Harry is a zebra, but it might be that he’s just a cleverly disguised mule’) caused serious trouble for fallibilists. As he saw it, CKAs are overt statements of the fallibilist view and they are contradictory. Dougherty and Rysiew have argued that CKAs are pragmatically defective rather than semantically defective. Stanley thinks that their pragmatic response to Lewis fails, but the fallibilist cause is not lost because Lewis was wrong about the (...)
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  • Norms of Assertion: The Quantity and Quality of Epistemic Support.J. Adam Carter & Emma C. Gordon - 2011 - Philosophia 39 (4):615-635.
    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, (...)
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  • Closure and Epistemic Modals.Justin Bledin & Tamar Lando - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 97 (1):3-22.
    According to a popular closure principle for epistemic justification, if one is justified in believing each of the premises in set Φ and one comes to believe that ψ on the basis of competently deducing ψ from Φ—while retaining justified beliefs in the premises—then one is justified in believing that ψ. This principle is prima facie compelling; it seems to capture the sense in which competent deduction is an epistemically secure means to extend belief. However, even the single-premise version of (...)
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  • Knowledge and Other Norms for Assertion, Action, and Belief: A Teleological Account.Neil Mehta - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (3):681-705.
    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 (...)
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  • A Case for a Certainty Norm of Assertion.Esben Nedenskov Petersen - forthcoming - Synthese.
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  • Testimony, Evidence and Interpersonal Reasons.Nick Leonard - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (9):2333-2352.
    According to the Interpersonal View of Testimony, testimonial justification is non-evidential in nature. I begin by arguing that the IVT has the following problem: If the IVT is true, then young children and people with autism cannot participate in testimonial exchanges; but young children and people with autism can participate in testimonial exchanges; thus, the IVT should be rejected on the grounds that it has over-cognized what it takes to give and receive testimony. Afterwards, I consider what I take to (...)
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  • World‐Pictures and Wittgensteinian Certainty.Hiroshi Ohtani - 2018 - Metaphilosophy 49 (1-2):115-136.
    Although certainty is a fundamental notion in epistemology, it is less studied in contemporary analytic epistemology than other important notions such as knowledge or justification. This paper focuses on Wittgensteinian certainty, according to which the very basic dimension of our epistemic practices, the elements of our world-pictures, are objectively certain, in that we cannot legitimately doubt them. The aim of the paper is to offer the best philosophical way to clarify Wittgensteinian certainty, in a way that is consonant with Wittgenstein's (...)
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  • Certainty and Scepticism.Duncan Pritchard - 2008 - Philosophical Issues 18 (1):58-67.
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  • How Do You Know That 'How Do You Know?' Challenges a Speaker's Knowledge?Rachel McKinnon - 2012 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 93 (1):65-83.
    It is often argued that the general propriety of challenging an assertion with ‘How do you know?’ counts as evidence for the Knowledge Norm of Assertion (KNA). Part of the argument is that this challenge seems to directly challenge whether a speaker knows what she asserts. In this article I argue for a re-interpretation of the data, the upshot of which is that we need not interpret ‘How do you know?’ as directly challenging a speaker's knowledge; instead, it's better understood (...)
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  • Must, Knowledge, and Directness.Daniel Lassiter - 2016 - Natural Language Semantics 24 (2):117-163.
    This paper presents corpus and experimental data that problematize the traditional analysis of must as a strong necessity modal, as recently revived and defended by von Fintel and Gillies :351–383, 2010). I provide naturalistic examples showing that must p can be used alongside an explicit denial of knowledge of p or certainty in p, and that it can be conjoined with an expression indicating that p is not certain or that not-p is possible. I also report the results of an (...)
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  • On the Pragmatic Explanation of Concessive Knowledge Attributions.Hagit Benbaji - 2009 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 47 (3):225-237.
    On Lewis’s reading, fallibilism is the contradictory view that it is possible that S knows that p, even though S cannot eliminate some remote scenarios in which not-p. The pragmatic strategy is to make the alleged contradiction a mere pragmatic implicature, which is explained by false conversational expectations. I argue that the pragmatic strategy fails.
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  • A Note on Existentially Known Assertions.Ivan Milić - 2015 - Philosophical Quarterly 65 (261):813-821.
    An assertion is existentially known if and only if: (i) the speaker knows that the sentence she uses to make the assertion expresses a true proposition; (ii) she makes the assertion based on that knowledge; and (iii) she does not believe, have justification for, or know the proposition asserted. Accordingly, if existentially known assertions could be made correctly—as argued by Charlie Pelling in his ‘Assertion and the Provision of Knowledge’—this would show that the norm of assertion cannot be the speaker's (...)
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