Two accounts of assertion

Synthese 200 (3):1-18 (2022)
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Abstract

In this paper I will compare two competing accounts of assertion: the knowledge account and the justified belief account. When it comes to the evidence that is typically used to assess accounts of assertion – including the evidence from lottery propositions, the evidence from Moore’s paradoxical propositions and the evidence from conversational patterns – I will argue that the justified belief account has at least as much explanatory power as its rival. I will argue, finally, that a close look at the ways in which assertions can be challenged and retracted reveals a certain advantage for the justified belief account. The paper will touch upon a number of further topics along the way, including the logical interaction between knowledge and justified belief, the nature of defeat, and the hypothesis that knowledge and justified belief are normatively coincident goals.

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Martin Smith
University of Edinburgh

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