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Defeat is the loss of justification for believing something in light of new information. This Element mainly aims to work towards developing a novel account of defeat. It distinguishes among three broad views in the epistemology of defeat: scepticism, internalism, and externalism and argues that that sceptical and internalist accounts of defeat are bound to remain unsatisfactory. As a result, any viable account of defeat must be externalist. While there is no shortage of externalist accounts, the Element provides reason to think that extant accounts remain unsatisfactory. The Element also explains the constructive tasks of developing an alternative account of defeat and showing that it improves on the competition.
Chapter 8 takes a closer look at the relation between the knowledge rule of assertion and the divide between contextualist and invariantist semantics for knowledge attributions. We argue that DeRose’s influential argument that the knowledge rule of assertion demands contextualism fails and show how it can be turned on its head.
Chapter 5 fits the knowledge rule of assertion into the functionalist picture. We ask the question of why assertion should be governed by the knowledge rule, look at some proposals from the rule first camp, due, respectively, to Bach and Hindriks on the one hand and Douven on the other, and show that they remain unsatisfactory. We then offer a functionalist account of the status of the knowledge rule of assertion as well as a functionalist rationale for it.
The vast majority of the literature on the knowledge rule of assertion focuses on the claim that knowledge is necessary for permissible assertion. Chapter 3 turns to the thesis that knowledge is sufficient for permissible assertion and defends it against recent objections by Jessica Brown and Jennifer Lackey.
Assertion is the central vehicle for the sharing of knowledge. Whether knowledge is shared successfully often depends on the quality of assertions: good assertions lead to successful knowledge sharing, while bad ones don't. In Sharing Knowledge, Christoph Kelp and Mona Simion investigate the relation between knowledge sharing and assertion, and develop an account of what it is to assert well. More specifically, they argue that the function of assertion is to share knowledge with others. It is this function that supports a central norm of assertion according to which a good assertion is one that has the disposition to generate knowledge in others. The book uses this functionalist approach to motivate further norms of assertion on both the speaker and the hearer side and investigates ramifications of this view for other questions about assertion.
Chapter 2 discusses a number of classical problems for the knowledge rule of assertion and argues that these problems can be solved. Worth special notice here is a general normative framework with accounts of criticisability, blamelessness and blameworthiness that we develop. Applied to the case of assertion, this framework allows us to give a well-motivated and knowledge-rule-friendly response to some classical cases that are often thought to show that the knowledge rule of assertion is too strong.
According to the knowledge rule of assertion, one must assert that p only if one knows that p. Chapter 1 mounts a case for the knowledge rule of assertion. It surveys relevant evidence for it in the literature and develops a couple of additions that serve to strengthen the case for the knowledge rule of assertion.
Chapter 6 turns to rules of assertion on the hearer side. One of the central aims of this chapter is to argue for one specific such rule which requires hearers believe what is asserted. We argue that in order to make proper sense of testimonial injustice, we must countenance a duty to believe on the part of the hearer. Having looked at some proposals that emerge from recent literature on conversational pressure and found them wanting, we offer a functionalist account of this duty to belief.
Chapter 7 considers the question of whether the knowledge rule of assertion is a constitutive rule of assertion in the same way in which rules of games and languages are constitutive, and defends a negative answer.