The Knowledge Account of Assertion and the Nature of Testimonial Knowledge

Sanford C. Goldberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Most discussions of the knowledge account of assertion focus on the perspective of the speaker: they ask whether the knowledge account provides a plausible characterization of the conditions under which it is appropriate to make an assertion. But it is noteworthy that we can take another perspective: that of the hearer, who consumes assertion. This chapter examines the suggestion that the knowledge account enjoys an unappreciated virtue in this respect. The unappreciated virtue is that the knowledge account yields a simple and highly attractive account of knowledge through testimony. After outlining how such an account might go, the chapter suggests that it is premature to conclude that the knowledge account enjoys the virtue in question. This is because such an account involves empirical assumptions regarding the conditions under which hearers accept observed assertion, and we have some reason to think that these assumptions are less true to the facts than are the corresponding empirical assumptions of competitor accounts. This result does not call the knowledge account of assertion into question, but it does suggest that this account cannot yet claim what otherwise might have seemed an important, and heretofore unrecognized, virtue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationWilliamson on Knowledge
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191713620
ISBN (Print)9780199287512
StatePublished - Oct 1 2009


  • Assertion
  • Knowledge
  • Testimony

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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