Acta Analytica

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 187–205 | Cite as

A Warranted-assertability Defense of a Moorean Response to Skepticism



According to a Moorean response to skepticism, the standards for knowledge are invariantly comparatively low, and we can know across contexts all that we ordinarily take ourselves to know. It is incumbent upon the Moorean to defend his position by explaining how, in contexts in which S seems to lack knowledge, S can nevertheless have knowledge. The explanation proposed here relies on a warranted-assertability maneuver: Because we are warranted in asserting that S doesn’t know that p, it can seem that S does in fact lack that piece of knowledge. Moreover, this warranted-assertability maneuver is unique and better than similar maneuvers because it makes use of H. P. Grice’s general conversational rule of Quantity—“Do not make your contribution more informative than is required”—in explaining why we are warranted in asserting that S doesn’t know that p.


Warranted-assertability Mooreanism  Skepticism Knowledge 


  1. Bach, K. (2005). The emperor’s new ‘knows’. In G. Preyer & G. Peter (Eds.), Contextualism in philosophy: On epistemology, language and truth. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Blaauw, M. (2003). WAMming away at contextualism. Sats - Nordic Journal of Philosophy, 4, 88–97.Google Scholar
  3. Black, T. (2002). A Moorean response to brain-in-a-vat scepticism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 80, 148–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Black, T. (2005). Classic invariantism, relevance, and warranted assertability manœuvers. The Philosophical Quarterly, 55, 328–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Black, T. (2008). Defending a sensitive neo-Moorean invariantism. In V. F. Hendricks & D. Pritchard (Eds.), New waves in epistemology (pp. 8–27). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  6. Black, T., & Murphy, P. (2005). Avoiding the dogmatic commitments of contextualism. Grazer Philosophische Studien, 69, 165–182.Google Scholar
  7. Brown, J. (2005). Adapt or die: The death of invariantism? The Philosophical Quarterly, 55, 263–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brown, J. (2006). Contextualism and warranted assertability manoeuvres. Philosophical Studies, 130, 407–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carston, R. (1998). Informativeness, relevance and scalar implicature. In R. Carston & S. Uchida (Eds.), Relevance theory: Applications and implications. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  10. Cohen, S. (1988). How to be a fallibilist. Philosophical Perspectives, 2, 91–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cohen, S. (1999). Contextualism, skepticism, and the structure of reasons. Philosophical Perspectives, 13, 57–89.Google Scholar
  12. DeRose, K. (1991). Epistemic possibilities. Philosophical Review, 100, 581–605.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. DeRose, K. (1992). Contextualism and knowledge attributions. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 52, 913–929.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. DeRose, K. (1996). Knowledge, assertion, and lotteries. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 74, 568–580.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. DeRose, K. (1999a). Contextualism: An explanation and defense. In J. Greco & E. Sosa (Eds.), The Blackwell guide to epistemology. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  16. DeRose, K. (1999b). Now you know it, now you don’t. In Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume V, Epistemology. Bowling Green, OH: Philosophy Documentation Center.Google Scholar
  17. DeRose, K. (1999c). Solving the skeptical problem. In K. DeRose & T. A. Warfield (Eds.), Skepticism: A contemporary reader. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. DeRose, K. (2002). Assertion, knowledge, and context. Philosophical Review, 111, 167–203.Google Scholar
  19. DeRose, K. (2006). “Bamboozled by our own words”: Semantic blindness and some arguments against contextualism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 73, 316–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Grice, H. P. (1989a). Logic and conversation. In H. P. Grice (Eds.), Studies in the way of words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Grice, H. P. (1989b). Meaning. In H. P. Grice (Eds.), Studies in the way of words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Harnish, R. M. (1976). Logical form and implicature. In T. G. Bever, J. J. Katz & D. T. Langendoen (Eds.), An integrated theory of linguistic ability. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell.Google Scholar
  23. Hawthorne, J. (2001). Freedom in context. Philosophical Studies, 104, 63–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Heller, M. (1999). Relevant alternatives and closure. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 77, 196–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hirschberg, J. (1985). A theory of scalar implicature. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania.Google Scholar
  26. Horn, L. R. (1984). Toward a new taxonomy for pragmatic inference: Q-based and R-based implicature. In D. Schiffrin (Eds.), Meaning, form, and use in context: Linguistic applications. Washington, D. C.: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Leech, G. N. (1983). Principles of pragmatics. New York: Longman.Google Scholar
  28. Leite, A. (2005). Some worries for would-be WAMmers. Grazer Philosophische Studien, 69, 101–125.Google Scholar
  29. Levinson, S. C. (1983). Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Levinson, S. C. (2000). Presumptive meanings: The theory of generalized conversational implicature. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  31. Lewis, D. (1996). Elusive knowledge. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 74, 549–567.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nozick, R. (1981). Philosophical explanations. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  33. O’Hair, S. G. (1969). Implications and meaning. Theoria, 35, 38–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pritchard, D. (2005). Contextualism, scepticism and warranted assertibility manoeuvres. In J. Keim-Campbell, M. O’Rourke, & H. Silverstein (Eds.), Knowledge and skepticism. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  35. Rieber, S. (1998). Skepticism and contrastive explanation. Noûs, 32, 189–204.Google Scholar
  36. Rysiew, P. (2001). The context-sensitivity of knowledge attributions. Noûs, 35, 477–514.Google Scholar
  37. Sperber, D., & Wilson, D. (1986). Relevance: Communication and cognition. Oxford: Basil, Blackwell.Google Scholar
  38. Unger, P. (1975). Ignorance: A case for scepticism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Van Rooy, R. (2004). Relevance implicatures. Retrieved November 3, 2007, from
  40. Welker, K. (1994). Plans in the common ground: Toward a generative account of implicature. Ph.D. Dissertation, The Ohio State University.Google Scholar
  41. Williamson, T. (1996). Knowing and asserting. Philosophical Review, 105, 489–523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Williamson, T. (2000). Knowledge and its limits. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyCalifornia State UniversityNorthridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations