MoL-2009-03: Analysis of Knowledge, Assertion, Verification

MoL-2009-03: Chiffi, Daniele (2009) Analysis of Knowledge, Assertion, Verification. [Report]

[thumbnail of Full Text]
Text (Full Text)

Download (449kB) | Preview
[thumbnail of Abstract] Text (Abstract)

Download (5kB)


Since Plato’s Theatetus, propositional knowledge has been a perennial
topic in philosophy. Even though the concept of knowledge and its
analysis present such a long tradition, there is still the presence of
“an extraordinary range of existing disagreements concerning
conditions of knowing that should figure in an analysis of knowing”
(Shope 2002, p. 25).
According to the Platonic ‘tripartite analysis of knowledge’,
knowledge is justified true belief. In this definition, the term truth
reminds us of a realistic concept, that is, a mind-independent
concept, while the justification of a belief reminds us of a mind-
dependent concept1. The relation between mind and world is also a
basic feature of the concept of assertion. This is so, since every
assertion is based on an act of judgement which has to acknowledge the
truth of a proposition, which speaks in itself of the world. Thus,
the primary role is to linguistically express our judgements about the
external world. Hence both knowledge and assertion regard the
interplay between mind and world.
On the one hand, one could claim that knowledge and assertion are
independent concepts, but I am very sceptical of this, since they are
both propositional attitudes, belong to the same linguistic
category. On the other hand, one could maintain that knowledge and
assertion are concepts of the same linguistic category, a view that I
agree with, since they both aim to the truth of determined
propositions. The same propositions express our thoughts on the world,
and they are analysed in terms of beliefs and judgements, which are
mind-dependent concepts.
In the following sections I will try: i) to clarify how knowledge can
be analysed in a fallibilist and probabilistic setting so that it can
be connected to the concept of assertion in order to overcome the
counterexamples that any previous analysis of knowledge have
presented, ii) to determine the constitutive rule(s) of the act of
assertion iii) to establish the consequences of the concepts thus
analysed of assertion and knowledge for the verificationist programs
in (constructive) mathematics and theory of meaning (notably in the
dispute between Dummett and Hintikka on the correct logic of
Usually, the topic i) is mainly considered to belong to epistemology,
the topic ii) to philosophy of language and iii) to constructive
and/or epistemic logics. I hope that my unified view can open new
horizons on these nested concepts.
Notice that, differently from the proposals of a descriptive (or
naturalized) epistemology, the present work has been written having in
mind a normative framework for epistemology, within which it is
possible to introduce criteria of justification in order to get a
rational reconstruction about the concepts of knowledge and
assertion. Namely, I am interested in presenting an explication of
these concepts in order to make sense of the paradoxes that turn out
to be connected with knowledge and assertion. Thus, I will not focus
too much on the common use of these terms from a descriptive (and
cognitive) point of view. Nevertheless, their rational reconstruction
offers a proper linguistic treatment which can clarify the ambiguities
(and paradoxes) of their use in natural language. Of course, different
approaches to knowledge and assertion will determine a variety of
interpretations and theories connected with these notions. Only after
the assumption of a possible initial framework within which analysing
a notion, one can apply a determined theory that turns out to be
coherent with respect to the initial framework. In this sense, every
theory implies some (partially hidden) philosophical and
methodological assumptions, due also to external factors, that lead
and determine the object of the research2. If so, then there exists
the problem of comparing different approaches towards similar
phenomena. My proposal indicates that only a rational reconstruction
of a notion can handle the minimal features that every interpretation
of that notion requires. Once the rational reconstruction has been
fixed as a criterion of material adequacy, one can apply a particular
theory (with its philosophical and empirical assumptions) which saves
the phenomena explicated in the rational reconstruction. Of course,
there can exists cases in which there is no agreement on the minimal
features of the rational reconstructions of a notion, so, only in this
case the requirement of the rational reconstruction can be overcome.
Section 2 explores the problems of the analysis of knowledge and
indicates my probabilistic treatment of the issue, while in Section 3
I show the validity and the limits of Williamson’s account of
assertion and I claim that assertions are governed by two rules of
assertions, namely the knowledge rule and the warrant rule. Moreover,
I show the connection between these two rules and two different
tendencies in the verificationist program, that I have called
epistemic verificationism and pragmatic verificationism. In case of
mathematical knowledge these two tendencies require different
formalisms, as it follows in the analysis of the Dummett-Hintikka
dispute. In Section 4, I will be back to the dichotomy between
normative and descriptive epistemology, in order to reconsider the
initial claims of the present work concerning the analysis of
knowledge and assertion.

Item Type: Report
Report Nr: MoL-2009-03
Series Name: Master of Logic Thesis (MoL) Series
Year: 2009
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2016 14:38
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2016 14:38

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item