Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Lackey and Moore Again

I found myself very unhappy with how I put my earlier objection to Lackey's treatment of Moore's Paradox, and I managed to put the worry much better in conversation with Sandy Goldberg this weekend. Towards the end of the earlier post, I wrote:

'it may be that Lackey conceives of the challenge to the reasonable belief account as follows; the account rules as permissible assertions which strike us as paradoxical and/or odd'

I now think this is spot on. Likewise, Lackey takes herself to be playing defense against the following objection; we hear assertions of lottery propositions as conversational fouls, but it's reasonable to believe them, and so Lackey's norm doesn't rule them as infelicitous. The heading that the section in which she discusses these issues is called 'counterexamples to the RTBNA', (i.e. the reasonable to believe norm of assertion), the conclusion of which is:

'neither lottery propositions nor Moorean paradoxes--the two central objections to norms requiring anything less than [the knowledge norm]--pose a problem for the RTBNA.'

But now my worry can be stated. If all the evidence Williamson adduced in favor of the knowledge norm can be explained away with appeal to a principle to the effect that we shouldn't assert what we know will mislead our audience, what reason do we have for thinking there's a norm of assertion at all? The argument for the existence of a norm is an inference to the best explanation, but what's left for Lackey's RTBNA to explain?

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