Knowledge and assertion in “Gettier” cases

Philosophical Psychology 29 (5):759-775 (2016)
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Assertion is fundamental to our lives as social and cognitive beings. By asserting we share knowledge, coordinate behavior, and advance collective inquiry. Accordingly, assertion is of considerable interest to cognitive scientists, social scientists, and philosophers. This paper advances our understanding of the norm of assertion. Prior evidence suggests that knowledge is the norm of assertion, a view known as “the knowledge account.” In its strongest form, the knowledge account says that knowledge is both necessary and sufficient for assertability: you should make an assertion if and only if you know that it is true. The knowledge account has been rejected on the grounds that it conflicts with our ordinary practice of evaluating assertions. This paper reports four experiments that address an important objection of this sort, which focuses on a class of examples known as “Gettier cases.” The results undermine the objection and, in the process, provide further evidence for the knowledge account. The findings also teach some important general lessons about intuitional methodology and the curation of genres of thought experiment.
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