It is commonly held that there are internal links between understanding and assent such that being semantically competent with an expression requires accepting certain sentences as true. The paper discusses a recent challenge to this conception of semantic competence, posed by Timothy Williamson (2007). According to Williamson there are no understanding-assent links of the suggested sort, no internal connection between semantic competence and belief. I suggest that Williamson is quite right to question the claim that being semantically competent with an expression e requires accepting a certain sentence S as true. However, Williamson does not merely wish to reject this version of the understanding-assent view, but the very idea that the connection with belief provides constitutive constraints on linguistic understanding and concept possession. This further move, I argue, is very problematic. Giving a plausible account of semantic competence requires accepting that there are constitutive links between understanding and assent, although these links should be construed holistically rather than atomistically.

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