Same, same but different: The epistemic norms of assertion, action and practical reasoning

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What is the relationship between the epistemic norms of assertion and the epistemic norms of action/practical reasoning? Brown argues that the epistemic standards for practical reasoning and assertion are distinct (Brown in Philos Phenomenol Res 84(1):123-157, 2012). In contrast, Montminy argues that practical reasoning and assertion must be governed by the same epistemic norm (Montminy in Pac Philos Quart 93(4):57-68, 2012). Likewise, McKinnon has articulated an argument for a unified account from cases of isolated second-hand knowledge (McKinnon in Logos Episteme 3(4):565-569, 2012). To clarify the issue, I articulate a distinction between Equivalence Commonality and Structural Commonality. I then argue against the former by counterexamples that doubly dissociate the epistemic standards for assertion and action. Furthermore, I argue that such a double dissociation compromises knowledge accounts of both assertion and action/practical reasoning. To provide a more accurate diagnosis, I consider speech act theory and argue that principled differences between the epistemic norms of action and assertion compromise Equivalence Commonality. In contrast, a qualified version of Structural Commonality may be preserved.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)725–744
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Action
  • Assertion
  • Epistemic norms
  • Practical reasoning


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