Philosophical Studies

, Volume 174, Issue 9, pp 2277–2295 | Cite as

Against selfless assertions

  • Ivan MilićEmail author


Lackey’s (Noûs 41(4):594–626, 2007) class of “selfless assertions” is controversial in at least two respects: it allows propositions that express Moorean absurdity to be asserted warrantedly, and it challenges the orthodox view that the speaker’s belief is a necessary condition for warranted assertibility. With regard to the former point, I critically examine Lackey’s broadly Gricean treatment of Moorean absurdity and McKinnon’s (Am Philos Q 50(2):121–135, 2013; The norms of assertion: truth, lies, and warrant. Palgrave MacMillan, London, 2015) epistemic approach. With regard to the latter point, I defend the received view by supporting the knowledge account (KA), on which knowledge is the necessary condition for warranted assertion. After examining two defenses of KA, by Montminy (Perspectives in pragmatics, philosophy and psychology, Springer, Berlin, 2013) and Turri (Epistemic norms: new essays on action, belief, and assertion. OUP, Oxford, 2014), I propose two alternative approaches. Although I remain neutral between them, I develop in more detail the view which classifies “selfless assertions” as “presentations”, a type of assertives distinct from genuine assertions. This account is motivated further by allowing for the expansion of the normative approach to other assertives, a feature we may be interested in, in the light of a recent wave of normative accounts of speech acts.


Selfless assertion Moorean sentences Norm of assertion Assertive Presenting 



I wish to thank Manuel García-Carpintero, Neri Marsili, Sven Rosenkranz and an anonymous referee for a very helpful discussion on the earlier versions of this paper. This work was supported by a Grant from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (MICINN), the DGI projects FFI2010–16049 and FFI2013-47948, and an AGAUR–Generalitat de Catalunya Grant (2009SGR–1077).


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Logic, History and Philosophy of ScienceUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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