The Express Knowledge Account of Assertion

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (1):37-45 (2011)
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Abstract

Many philosophers favour the simple knowledge account of assertion, which says you may assert something only if you know it. The simple account is true but importantly incomplete. I defend a more informative thesis, namely, that you may assert something only if your assertion expresses knowledge. I call this 'the express knowledge account of assertion', which I argue better handles a wider range of cases while at the same time explaining the simple knowledge account's appeal. §1 introduces some new data that a knowledge account of assertion well explains. §2 explains the simple knowledge account's advantage over two of its main competitors. §3 presents a problem for the simple account and offers a solution, which is to adopt the express knowledge account. §4 encapsulates the case for the express knowledge account, and offers a unifying vision for the epistemology of belief and assertion. §5 answers an objection. §6 briefly sums up. Even those who ultimately reject my conclusion can still benefit from the new data presented in §1, and learn an important lesson from the problem discussed in §3, which demonstrates a general constraint on an acceptable account of the norm of assertion.

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John Turri
University of Waterloo

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