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AssertionNew Philosophical Essays$
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Jessica Brown and Herman Cappelen

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199573004

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199573004.001.0001

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Information and Assertoric Force *

Information and Assertoric Force *

(p.97) 5 Information and Assertoric Force*

Peter Pagin (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

A new account of assertion is presented. Rough short statement: an assertion is an utterance that is prima facie informative. The idea of an informative utterance of a sentence is explicated in terms of a process that reliably selects sentences that are true among all sentences of a language (or other large set). To this are added accounts of what it is for a speaker and for a hearer to take an utterance as informative, in terms of their credences in the proposition expressed. In the hearer's case it is the credence that results from the utterance, and in the speaker's case the credence that precedes and partially explains the utterance. Finally, these credence connections are tied to certain surface features, typically grammatical and intonational, but the connections are only default connections and can be overridden, e.g. because of background knowledge on the part of the hearer, or because of an intention to deceive on the part of the speaker. This spells out the prima facie character. The account is applied to a number of cases and some problems are discussed. There is also an initial criticism of the currently popular trend of accounting for assertion in terms of norms.

Keywords:   assertion, information, informativeness, credence, utterance

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