Representing knowledge

The Philosophical Review 130 (1):97-143 (2021)
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A speaker's use of a declarative sentence in a context has two effects: it expresses a proposition and represents the speaker as knowing that proposition. This essay is about how to explain the second effect. The standard explanation is act-based. A speaker is represented as knowing because their use of the declarative in a context tokens the act-type of assertion and assertions represent knowledge in what's asserted. I propose a semantic explanation on which declaratives covertly host a "know"-parenthetical. A speaker is thereby represented as knowing the proposition expressed because that is the semantic contribution of the parenthetical. I call this view parentheticalism and defend that it better explains knowledge representation than alternatives. As a consequence of outperforming assertoric explanations, parentheticalism opens the door to eliminating the act-type of assertion from linguistic theorizing.

Author's Profile

Peter van Elswyk
Northwestern University


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