Doc'In Nicod

The Truth Norm for Assertion: Definitional or Individuative?

Maryam Ebrahimi Dinani (IJN PhD Student)
Informations pratiques
14 décembre 2018

ENS, Pavillon Jardin, conference room, 2' rue Lhomond, 75005 Paris



This paper is about the norm of truth for assertion, which I henceforth call “The Truth Rule”, and is formulated as follows: “One ought to assert only what is true”. I argue that The Truth Rule as thus formulated is a norm for assertion in a specific sense. I defend the view that assertion is, by its nature, governed by the rule according to which one ought to assert only what is true. The paper proceeds in two parts: a historically expository part in which I situate the problem and a conceptual one in which I defend the thesis. I start the first part with Dummett, who argued for the importance of the norm of truth for assertion through an analogy with games. I then explain how this analogy is formulated in the literature in terms of what is known as “constitutive rules”, and I discuss two distinct, but conflated, ways of characterizing constitutive rules from the works of Williamson and Searle. In the second part, I introduce a distinction between two types of constitutive rules, which I call “definitional” vs. “individuative” constitutive rules. I argue then for the truth rule as being of the individuative type, and I give a possible explanation of the distinction within the institutional framework. I finish by looking at one possible account of the nature of the individuative type of constitutive rules.