Constitutive Rules and Internal Criticism of Assertion

In Panu Raatikainen (ed.), Essays in the Philosophy of Language. Helsinki: Acta Philosophica Fennica. pp. 301-315 (2023)
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Timothy Williamson famously argued that assertion is constituted either by the knowledge rule or some similar epistemic rule. If true, the proposal has important implications for criticism of assertions. If assertions are analogical to other rule-constituted kinds like games, we can criticize assertions either on external or internal grounds, depending on whether the criticism draws from the necessary norms of assertion or some contingent ones. More recently, authors like Goldberg and MacFarlane have argued against other theories of assertion on the grounds that they cannot explain the possibility of internal criticism for assertions. This paper raises methodological problems with these arguments. The main idea is to show that alternative, non-normative accounts of assertion can also explain the apparent differences in grounds of criticism without assuming that assertion is necessarily governed by some epistemic norm.

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Jaakko Reinikainen
Tampere University


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