Publication Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

12-2017

Abstract

Timothy Williamson offers the ordinary practice, the lottery and the Moorean argument for the ‘knowledge account’ that assertion is theonly speech-act that is governed by the single ‘knowledge rule’ or norm, thatone must know its content. I show that the emptiness of the knowledge accountrenders mysterious why breaking the knowledge rule should be a source ofcriticism. I then argue that focussing exclusively on the sincerity of thespeech-act of letting one know engenders a category mistake about the nature ofconstraints on assertion. For Williamson and those in his tradition, assertionfalls under purely epistemic norms. But assertionis an epistemic action and is governed by norms of epistemic action. The actionof informing someone is an epistemic action. So is proclaiming one’s faith,answering an examiner or lying. I propose that norm of a type of assertion isthe epistemic state one needs for one’s speech-act to succeed in being anassertion of that type and that the epistemic state in question is determinedby the point of the type of assertion. Consequently, much of the knowledgeaccount is at odds with this proposal, although some of it is also correct ifassertion is thought of narrowly as informing. Next I show that Williamson’sthe ordinary practice argument, the lottery argument and the Moorean argument fail to support theknowledge account. After giving an analysis ofassertion, I propose that the norm of a type of assertion is theepistemic state one needs for one’s speech-act to succeed in being an assertionof that type and that the epistemic state in question is determined by thepoint of the type of assertion. One is practically irrational in violating thenorm.

Keywords

assertion, speech acts, norms, knowledge, belief, intention

Discipline

Modern Languages | Theory, Knowledge and Science

Research Areas

Humanities

Publication

Manuscrito

Volume

40

Issue

4

First Page

39

Last Page

76

ISSN

0100-6045

Identifier

10.1590/0100-6045.2017.v40n4.jw

Publisher

Universidade Estadual de Campinas

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Additional URL

https://doi.org/10.1590/0100-6045.2017.v40n4.jw

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