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Knowledge and the Norm of Assertion: An Essay in Philosophical Science

Cambridge: Open Book Publishers (2016)

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  1. Truth, Fallibility, and Justification: New Studies in the Norms of Assertion.John Turri - 2020 - Synthese (9):1-12.
    This paper advances our understanding of the norms of assertion in two ways. First, I evaluate recent studies claiming to discredit an important earlier finding which supports the hypothesis that assertion has a factive norm. In particular, I evaluate whether it was due to stimuli mentioning that a speaker’s evidence was fallible. Second, I evaluate the hypothesis that assertion has a truth-insensitive standard of justification. In particular, I evaluate the claim that switching an assertion from true to false, while holding (...)
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  • Lying: Knowledge or Belief?Neri Marsili - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies.
    A new definition of lying is gaining traction, according to which you lie only if you say what you know to be false. Drawing inspiration from “New Evil Demon” scenarios, I present a battery of counterexamples against this “Knowledge Account” of lying. Along the way, I comment upon the methodology of conceptual analysis, the moral implications of the Knowledge Account, and its ties with knowledge-first epistemology.
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  • Assertion is Weak.Matthew Mandelkern & Kevin Dorst - forthcoming - Philosophers' Imprint.
    Recent work has argued that belief is weak: the level of rational credence required for belief is relatively low. That literature has contrasted belief with assertion, arguing that the latter requires an epistemic state much stronger than (weak) belief—perhaps knowledge or even certainty. We argue that this is wrong: assertion is just as weak as belief. We first present a variety of new arguments for this claim, and then show that the standard arguments for stronger norms are not convincing. Finally, (...)
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  • Knowledge in the Face of Conspiracy Conditionals.Ben Holguín - 2020 - Linguistics and Philosophy 44 (3):737-771.
    A plausible principle about the felicitous use of indicative conditionals says that there is something strange about asserting an indicative conditional when you know whether its antecedent is true. But in most contexts there is nothing strange at all about asserting indicative conditionals like ‘If Oswald didn’t shoot Kennedy, then someone else did’. This paper argues that the only compelling explanation of these facts requires the resources of contextualism about knowledge.
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  • Knowledge, Adequacy, and Approximate Truth.Wesley Buckwalter & John Turri - 2020 - Consciousness and Cognition 83:102950.
    Approximation involves representing things in ways that might be close to the truth but are nevertheless false. Given the widespread reliance on approximations in science and everyday life, here we ask whether it is conceptually possible for false approximations to qualify as knowledge. According to the factivity account, it is impossible to know false approximations, because knowledge requires truth. According to the representational adequacy account, it is possible to know false approximations, if they are close enough to the truth for (...)
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  • Assertion: The Constitutive Rule Account and the Engagement Condition Objection.Felix Bräuer - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-18.
    Many philosophers, following Williamson (The Philosophical Review 105(4): 489–523, 1996), Williamson (Knowledge and its Limits, Oxford, Oxford Univer- sity Press, 2000), subscribe to the constitutive rule account of assertion (CRAA). They hold that the activity of asserting is constituted by a single constitutive rule of assertion. However, in recent work, Maitra (in: Brown & Cappelen (ed). Assertion: new philosophical essays, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011), Johnson (Acta Analytica 33(1): 51–67, 2018), and Kelp and Simion (Synthese 197(1): 125–137, 2020a), Kelp and (...)
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  • Lying and Knowing.Ben Holguín - 2019 - Synthese 198 (6):5351-5371.
    This paper defends the simple view that in asserting that p, one lies iff one knows that p is false. Along the way it draws some morals about deception, knowledge, Gettier cases, belief, assertion, and the relationship between first- and higher-order norms.
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  • Must, Knowledge, and (in)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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  • Knowledge is the Norm of Assertion.Matthew A. Benton - forthcoming - In Ernest Sosa, Matthias Steup, John Turri & Blake Roeber (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Epistemology, 3rd edition. Wiley-Blackwell.
    Assertion is governed by an epistemic norm requiring knowledge. This idea has been hotly debated in recent years, garnering attention in epistemology, philosophy of language, and linguistics. This chapter presents and extends the main arguments in favor of the knowledge norm, from faulty conjunctions, several conversational patterns, judgments of permission, excuse, and blame, and from showing how. With a reply from Peter J. Graham. (Draft. Comments welcome.).
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  • Epistemic Injustice in Social Cognition.Wesley Buckwalter - 2019 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (2):294-308.
    ABSTRACTSilencing is a practice that disrupts linguistic and communicative acts, but its relationship to knowledge and justice is not fully understood. Prior models of epistemic injustice tend to c...
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  • A Rightness-Based Theory of Communicative Propriety.Daniel Drucker - 2019 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (1):121-135.
    ABSTRACTWe express and communicate many attitudes beyond belief, such as amusement, joy, admiration, hatred, and desire. I consider whether there are any general norms that would cover all of these cases. The most obvious generalisation of the most popular norms for assertion, fittingness-based theories, fail in part because it is sometimes an intrinsic good to have certain kinds of mental states. I develop an alternative, rightness-based, approach, according to which it is appropriate to communicate a mental state to an interlocutor (...)
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  • Hedged Assertion.Matthew A. Benton & Peter Van Elswyk - 2020 - In Sanford Goldberg (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Assertion. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 245-263.
    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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  • Objective falsity is essential to lying: an argument from convergent evidence.John Turri - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (6):2101-2109.
    This paper synthesizes convergent lines of evidence to evaluate the hypothesis that objective falsity is essential to lying. Objective accounts of lying affirm this hypothesis; subjective accounts deny it. Evidence from history, logic, social observation, popular culture, lexicography, developmental psychology, inference, spontaneous description, and behavioral experimentation strongly supports the hypothesis. Studies show that the only apparent evidence against the hypothesis is due to task substitution, i.e. ethical concerns or perspective-taking interfering with performance on categorization tasks. I conclude that, overall, existing (...)
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  • Moral Assertion.Christoph Kelp - 2020 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 23 (3-4):639-649.
    In this paper, I introduce a puzzle about moral assertion and defend a solution that centrally features the claim that the normativity of moral assertion centrally features moral understanding.
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  • A Peculiar and Perpetual Tendency: An Asymmetry in Knowledge Attributions for Affirmations and Negations.John Turri - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-14.
    From antiquity through the twentieth century, philosophers have hypothesized that, intuitively, it is harder to know negations than to know affirmations. This paper provides direct evidence for that hypothesis. In a series of studies, I found that people naturally view negations as harder to know than affirmations. Participants read simple scenarios and made judgments about truth, probability, belief, and knowledge. Participants were more likely to attribute knowledge of an outcome when framed affirmatively than when framed negatively. Participants did this even (...)
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  • Lying, Fast and Slow.Angelo Turri & John Turri - 2019 - Synthese 198 (1):757-775.
    Researchers have debated whether there is a relationship between a statement’s truth-value and whether it counts as a lie. One view is that a statement being objectively false is essential to whether it counts as a lie; the opposing view is that a statement’s objective truth-value is inessential to whether it counts as a lie. We report five behavioral experiments that use a novel range of behavioral measures to address this issue. In each case, we found evidence of a relationship. (...)
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  • Epistemological Aspects of Hope.Matthew A. Benton - 2019 - In Claudia Blöser & Titus Stahl (eds.), The Moral Psychology of Hope. London: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 135-151.
    Hope is an attitude with a distinctive epistemological dimension: it is incompatible with knowledge. This chapter examines hope as it relates to knowledge but also to probability and inductive considerations. Such epistemic constraints can make hope either impossible, or, when hope remains possible, they affect how one’s epistemic situation can make hope rational rather than irrational. Such issues are especially relevant to when hopefulness may permissibly figure in practical deliberation over a course of action. So I consider cases of second-order (...)
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  • Knowledge, Hope, and Fallibilism.Matthew A. Benton - 2021 - Synthese 198:1673-1689.
    Hope, in its propositional construction "I hope that p," is compatible with a stated chance for the speaker that not-p. On fallibilist construals of knowledge, knowledge is compatible with a chance of being wrong, such that one can know that p even though there is an epistemic chance for one that not-p. But self-ascriptions of propositional hope that p seem to be incompatible, in some sense, with self-ascriptions of knowing whether p. Data from conjoining hope self-ascription with outright assertions, with (...)
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  • Knowledge From Vice: Deeply Social Epistemology.Neil Levy & Mark Alfano - 2020 - Mind 129 (515):887-915.
    In the past two decades, epistemologists have significantly expanded the focus of their field. To the traditional question that has dominated the debate — under what conditions does belief amount to knowledge? — they have added questions about testimony, epistemic virtues and vices, epistemic trust, and more. This broadening of the range of epistemic concern has coincided with an expansion in conceptions of epistemic agency beyond the individualism characteristic of most earlier epistemology. We believe that these developments have not gone (...)
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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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  • The Knowledge Norm of Blaming.Christoph Kelp - 2020 - Analysis 80 (2):256-261.
    This paper argues that the standard evidence for the knowledge norm of assertion can be extended to provide evidence for a corresponding knowledge norm of blame.
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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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