Assertion, Uniqueness and Epistemic Hypocrisy

Synthese 194 (5) (2017)
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Abstract

Pascal Engel (2008) has insisted that a number of notable strategies for rejecting the knowledge norm of assertion are put forward on the basis of the wrong kinds of reasons. A central aim of this paper will be to establish the contrast point: I argue that one very familiar strategy for defending the knowledge norm of assertion—viz., that it is claimed to do better in various respects than its competitors (e.g. the justification and the truth norms)— relies on a presupposition that is shown to be ultimately under motivated. That presupposition is the uniqueness thesis—that there is a unique epistemic rule for assertion, and that such a rule will govern assertions uniformly. In particular, the strategy I shall take here will be to challenge the sufficiency leg of the knowledge norm in a way that at the same time counts against Williamson’s (2000) own rationale for the uniqueness thesis. However, rather than to challenge the sufficiency leg of the knowledge norm via the familiar style of ‘expert opinion’ and, more generally, ‘second-hand knowledge’ cases (e.g. Lackey (2008)), a strategy that has recently been called into question by Benton (2014), I’ll instead advance a very different line of argument against the sufficiency thesis, one which turns on a phenomenon I call epistemic hypocrisy.

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J. Adam Carter
University of Glasgow

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