New PDF release: Assertion

By Mark Jary (auth.)

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For these authors, assertions are primarily sources of information about how the world is, not how it is represented by the speaker. Assertions, on this view, are a form of perception by proxy, and only derivatively do they serve as indications of the speaker’s doxastic state. In this section, I will look at these views more closely before presenting a hybrid position. This sees assertion as primarily a phenomenon of information transfer that is underpinned by a special type of intention, the full recognition of which involves attributing the belief that P to the speaker.

The expressivist approach to truth advocated by the fundamentalists offers an alternative perspective on truth judgements in linguistic theorising. On this view, to judge an assertion as true is to accept the consequences of that assertion. Acceptance is only an issue, however, when rejection is also possible. In cases where rejection is not possible, acceptance, and hence truth judgements, should no longer be an issue. In Chapter 4, it will be argued that in cases where witnessing a non-assertoric utterance of a declarative sentence that expresses P results in the same commitments that follow from accepting an assertion that P, then rejection is not an issue and truth judgements do not apply.

Rather, ‘When the communicative process functions properly, sensory confrontation with a piece of communicative behaviour has the same impact on the state of a perceiver as sensory confrontation with the states of affairs that the behaviour, as we may say, represents; elements of the communicative repertoire serve as epistemic surrogates for the represented states of affairs’ (McDowell 1980/1998: 45). Communication of this type, then, has the same impact on the cognitive disposition of the receiver as direct perception of the state of affairs represented.

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