Assertion: The Constitutive Rule Account and the Engagement Condition Objection

Erkenntnis:1-18 (forthcoming)
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Abstract
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 Simion (in: Goldberg (ed) The Oxford Handbook of Assertion, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2020b) aim to show that, for all the most popular versions of the constitutive rule of assertion proposed in the literature, asserting is not an activity constituted by a single constitutive rule and that therefore CRAA is very likely false. To reach this conclusion, they all present a version of what can be dubbed the engagement condition objection. That is, they each propose a necessary condition on engaging in rule-constituted activities. Then they argue that, for all the most popular versions of the constitutive rule of assertion proposed in the literature, one can make assertions without satisfying this condition. In response, I present a counterexample that shows that the proposed engagement conditions lead to coun- terintuitive results, and I propose an alternative that better captures our intuitions. Then I argue that this alternative engagement condition is compatible with all the most popular versions of the constitutive rule of assertion.
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Archival date: 2021-09-19
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