The norm of assertion: Empirical data

Cognition 177 (C):165-171 (2018)
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Abstract

Assertions are speech acts by means of which we express beliefs. As such they are at the heart of our linguistic and social practices. Recent research has focused extensively on the question whether the speech act of assertion is governed by norms, and if so, under what conditions it is acceptable to make an assertion. Standard theories propose, for instance, that one should only assert that p if one knows that p (the knowledge account), or that one should only assert that p if p is true (the truth account). In a series of four experiments, this question is addressed empirically. Contrary to previous findings, knowledge turns out to be a poor predictor of assertability, and the norm of assertion is not factive either. The studies here presented provide empirical evidence in favour of the view that a speaker is warranted to assert that p only if her belief that p is justified.

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Markus Kneer
University of Z├╝rich

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