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The distinctive “should” of assertability

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Recent work has assumed that the normativity associated with assertion differs from the normativity of morality, practical rationality, etiquette, and legality. That is, whether an assertion “should” be made is not merely a function of these other familiar sorts of normativity and is especially connected to truth. Some researchers have challenged this assumption of distinctive normativity. In this paper I report two experiments that test the assumption. Participants read a brief story, judged whether an assertion should be made, and rated several other qualities of the assertion, including its truth value, morality, rationality, etiquette, legality, and folly. Of these qualities, truth value most strongly predicted assertability. The findings support the assumption of distinctive normativity and provide further evidence that the norm of our social practice of assertion is factive (i.e., it makes truth essential to assertability).
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Keywords: Assertion; norms; social cognition; truth

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada

Publication date: 19 May 2017

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