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AssuranceAn Austinian View of Knowledge and Knowledge Claims$
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Krista Lawlor

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199657896

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199657896.001.0001

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The speech act of assurance

The speech act of assurance

(p.9) 1 The speech act of assurance

Krista Lawlor

Oxford University Press

We start with Austin’s suggestion that we should compare ‘I know’ with ‘I promise.’ Assurances, routinely expressed with an explicit ‘I know’, offer an unlimited guarantee to one’s addressee. This guarantee can be understood in terms of the assurance giver offering exclusionary reasons to the hearer. This distinguishes the speech act of assurance from that of assertion. Alston’s theory of speech acts provides a framework for articulating the distinctive features of assurance. We find that assurance givers and receivers have commitments that they can shoulder only by appeal to a standard of reasonableness. As in the law, a reasonable person standard allows for coordination of judgments about the relevant normative commitments. Further, we find that a link between assurance-giving and knowledge is forged by the notion of reasonableness; the result is a reasonable alternatives theory of knowledge.

Keywords:   j.l. Austin, assurance, assertion, exclusionary reason, speech act, promise, reasonable person, relevant alternative, William Alston, Bernard Williams

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