Being in a Position to Know is the Norm of Assertion

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 101 (2):328-352 (2020)
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This paper defends a new norm of assertion: Assert that p only if you are in a position to know that p. We test the norm by judging its performance in explaining three phenomena that appear jointly inexplicable at first: Moorean paradoxes, lottery propositions, and selfless assertions. The norm succeeds by tethering unassertability to unknowability while untethering belief from assertion. The PtK‐norm foregrounds the public nature of assertion as a practice that can be other‐regarding, allowing asserters to act in the best interests of their audience when psychological pressures would otherwise prevent them from communicating the knowable truth.

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Christopher Willard-Kyle
University of Glasgow


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