What is it about?

Philosophers and linguists often say that language is constituted by its rules. The idea is that our language is what it is because of the rules that regulate it. However, this view is rarely explained, and often it is misunderstood. Examining some competing hypotheses, this paper identifies some common misunderstandings about the nature of linguistic rules, and presents a new framework to explain how language is constituted by rules

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Why is it important?

This article criticises account of the norm of assertion proposed by Tim Williamson: a very influential hypothesis, that has triggered a lively academic debate. Williamson's hypothesis is that the act of assertion (the act of claiming that something is the case) is made possible by a single rule that regulates it. This article defends a rather radical thesis: that there is no interesting sense in which there is a ‘constitutive’ rule of assertion. It shows that different authors interpret the idea that assertion is governed by a constitutive norm differently, and that depending on how we interpret this popular hypothesis, it is either unfounded or trivial.

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This page is a summary of: The norm of assertion: a ‘constitutive’ rule?, Inquiry, September 2019, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/0020174x.2019.1667868.
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