About this topic
Summary

Assertion is a kind of speech act which plays a central role in both philosophy of language and epistemology. The main philosophical issues concerning assertion include: How to characterize which utterances of (declarative) sentences count as assertions? What, if any, are the norms governing assertion?  What effects do assertions have on the dynamics of conversation? What is the connection between assertion and the semantic content, meaning, or truth of sentences? What is the connection between what one asserts and what one believes or knows? How can we separate between what is asserted by an utterance and what is conveyed by it in more indirect means – such as presupposition or implicature? Are utterances of conditional sentences a kind of assertion, or a different type of speech act (a conditional assertion)?

These questions help to see why assertion plays such a central role in philosophy: for example, assertion plays a central role in the philosophy of language for anyone who thinks that there is a close connection between what is asserted by an utterance and what its semantic content or meaning is, and plays a central role in epistemology for anyone who thinks that assertions are governed by a norm involving knowledge or belief (e.g. assert only what you know or only what you believe). 

Key works

The classic text on speech acts in general is Austin 1975. For a central discussion on the norms of assertion, and a defence of the knowledge norm of assertion see Williamson 2000. The classic text on the distinction between assertion and presupposition is Strawson 1950, and between assertion and implicature Grice 1967Stalnaker 1978 is the key work on the effects that assertion has on the dynamics of conversation, and how assertion, context, and semantic content interact with each other. For a defence of the claim that utterances of conditionals are not assertions, but rather involve a special kind of speech act see Edgington 1995.

Introductions For general introductions see Pagin 2015 and also the introduction in Brown & Cappelen 2011. For an introduction on the issue of norms of assertion in particular see Weiner 2007.
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  1. Juan José Acero (2007). Intención y aserción. Teorema 26 (2):19-39.
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  2. K. Baier (1954). Contradiction and Absurdity. Analysis 15 (2):31 - 40.
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  3. Richard B. Brandt (1952). The Status of Empirical Assertion Theories in Ethics. Mind 61 (244):458-479.
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  4. Rudolf Carnap (1934). Meaning, Assertion and Proposal. Philosophy of Science 1 (3):359-360.
  5. Manuel García Carpintero (2011). Assertion. New Philosophical Essays, de Jessica Brown. Teorema: Revista Internacional de Filosofía 30 (3):167-175.
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  6. Peter Cave (2011). With and Without Absurdity: Moore, Magic and McTaggart's Cat. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 68 (68):125-149.
    Here is a tribute to humanity. When under dictatorial rule, with free speech much constrained, a young intellectual mimed; he mimed in a public square. He mimed a protest speech, a speech without words. People drew round to watch and listen; to watch the expressive gestures, the flicker of tongue, the mouthing lips; to listen to – silence. The authorities also watched and listened, but did nothing.
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  7. L. J. Cohen & Alonso Church (1954). Assertion-Statements. Analysis 15:66.
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  8. L. J. Cohen & A. C. Lloyd (1955). Assertion-Statements. Analysis 15 (3):66 - 70.
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  9. Michael Cohen (1976). Assertion: A Reply to Brooks. Analysis 37 (1):44 - 45.
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  10. Malgorzata Czarnocka (1996). Truth and Assertion. Dialogue and Universalism 6 (1-6):125.
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  11. J. Delbœuf (1883). Note rectificative d'une assertion de Fechner. Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 16:229 - 231.
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  12. John Dewey (1934). Meaning, Assertion and Proposal. Philosophy of Science 1 (2):237-238.
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  13. V. H. Dudman (1992). Probability and Assertion. Analysis 52 (4):204 - 211.
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  14. Dorothy Edgington (2009). And Assertion. In Ian Ravenscroft (ed.), Minds, Ethics, and Conditionals: Themes From the Philosophy of Frank Jackson. Oxford University Press. 283.
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  15. George Englebretsen (1975). Trivalence and Absurdity. Philosophical Papers 4 (2):121-128.
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  16. Don Fallis (2011). What Liars Can Tell Us About the Knowledge Norm of Practical Reasoning. Southern Journal of Philosophy 49 (4):347-367.
    If knowledge is the norm of practical reasoning, then we should be able to alter people's behavior by affecting their knowledge as well as by affecting their beliefs. Thus, as Roy Sorensen (2010) suggests, we should expect to find people telling lies that target knowledge rather than just lies that target beliefs. In this paper, however, I argue that Sorensen's discovery of “knowledge-lies” does not support the claim that knowledge is the norm of practical reasoning. First, I use a Bayesian (...)
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  17. André Gombay (1988). Some Paradoxes of Counterprivacy. Philosophy 63 (244):191 - 210.
    For many years G. E. Moore asked himself what was wrong with sentences like ‘I went to the pictures last Tuesday, but I don't believe that I did’, or ‘I believe that he has gone out, but he has not’. He discussed the problem in 1912 in his Ethics , and was still discussing it in 1944 in a paper to the Moral Sciences Club at Cambridge—an event we know about from a letter of Wittgenstein that I shall quote in (...)
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  18. Joshua C. Gregory (1940). A Note on Statement and Assertion. Analysis 7 (3):75 - 76.
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  19. Ingemund Gullvåg (1978). The Logic of Assertion. Theoria 44 (2):75-116.
    The aim is to fashion intuitive conditions of pragmatic consistency for the speech act of assertion into a formal theory, so as to exclude "pragmatically absurd" utterances (contradictory statements, versions of the liar, moore's paradox, etc.). a core theory i for a concept of pragmatic implication (tentatively identified with overt or covert assertion) and an added theory ib for implied belief are constructed on the pattern of a weak modal system, whose specific axiom is taken to explicate what it means (...)
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  20. Alan Hájek & Daniel Stoljar (2001). Crimmins, Gonzales and Moore. Analysis 61 (3):208–213.
  21. David Holdcroft (1969). Asserting and Referring. Philosophical Quarterly 19 (75):111-122.
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  22. Gary Kemp (2007). 6 Assertion as a Practice. In Geo Siegwart & Dirk Griemann (eds.), Truth and Speech Acts: Studies in the Philosophy of Language. Routledge. 5--106.
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  23. Mikhail Kissine (forthcoming). J. Brown & H. Cappelen (Eds.) Assertion: New Philosophical Essays. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
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  24. W. Kluxen (1983). Humane Self-Assertion in the Technological World. Philosophisches Jahrbuch 90 (2):335-344.
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  25. Carolyn Korsmeyer (1985). Pictorial Assertion. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 43 (3):257-265.
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  26. Steven Luper (1992). The Absurdity of Life. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52:1-17.
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  27. Steven Luper-Foy (1992). The Absurdity of Life. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52 (1):85-101.
  28. Cynthia Macdonald & Anthony Appiah (1987). Mind, Meaning, and Assertion. Philosophical Books 28 (4):193-205.
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  29. J. S. Mackenzie (1895). Self-Assertion and Self-Denial. International Journal of Ethics 5 (3):273-295.
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  30. Tecla Mazzarese (1991). Norm-Proposition: Epistemic and Semantic Queries. Rechtstheorie 22:39-70.
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  31. Thomas McPherson (1959). Assertion and Analogy. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 60:155 - 170.
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  32. Joe Mintoff (2008). Transcending Absurdity. Ratio 21 (1):64–84.
    Many of us experience the activities which fill our everyday lives as meaningful, and to do so we must (and do) hold them to be important. However, reflection undercuts this confidence: our activities are aimed at ends which are arbitrary, in that we have reason to regard our taking them so seriously as lacking justification; they are comparatively insignificant; and they leave little of any real permanence. Even though we take our activities seriously, and our everyday lives to be important, (...)
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  33. Stuart Moore (1933). Rational Absurdity in Primitives. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 11 (3):204 – 221.
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  34. Kai Nielsen (1958). Is "Why Should I Be Moral?" An Absurdity? Australasian Journal of Philosophy 36 (1):25 – 32.
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  35. Edward Nieznański (2011). On Notions of Assertion, Knowledge and Opinion in Epistemic Logic. Studia Philosophiae Christianae 4:73-83.
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  36. Douglas Odegard (1966). Absurdity and Types. Mind 75 (297):97-113.
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  37. Peter Pagin (forthcoming). Review of Mark Jary: Assertion. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
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  38. H. Palmer (1964). Affirmation and Assertion. Philosophy 39 (148):120 - 136.
    Positivists have always objected to people talking about God. Their objection rests on quite general logical grounds. They have discovered a simple, formal test by which to tell significant remarks from nonsensical collections of words. There must, they say, be some minimal conditions of intelligibility. From these we can construct a Principle of Meaning. Now religiousremarks, on any positivist Principle, are demonstrable nonsense. What are these conditions of intelligibility ? Speaker and hearer, we suppose, must use the same language; must (...)
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  39. Eva Picardi (1994). Convention and Assertion. In Brian McGuiness & Gianluigi Oliveri (eds.), The Philosophy of Michael Dummett. Kluwer. 59--77.
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  40. Eva Picardi (1989). Davidson on Assertion, Convention and Belief. In Grazer Philosophische Studien. Netherlands: Rodopi. 97-107.
    The attitude of believing or "holding true" fulfils a twofold role in Davidson's theory of meaning: it provides the basic evidence for a theory of radical interpretation and it also constitutes the key notion in terms of which the linguistic act of assertion is to be characterized. It is however doubtful whether the notion of "holding true" can fulfil either of these two roles without presupposing an implicit grasp of the public significance of the practice of making assertions. The lack (...)
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  41. H. Pietersma (1985). Assertion and Predication in Husserl. Husserl Studies 2 (1):75-95.
    Husserl's views add up to a very complex set of conceptual relationships, Which I try to articulate in twelve theses. What I here call assertion--The author himself uses various terms--Is the sort of propositional attitude hume discussed as belief and brentano as judgment, I show how he distinguishes it from such things as namings and predications, Even from predications which assign existence, Truth, Or reality. I also deal with the neutral counterpart of assertion and its relation to the characteristically phenomenological (...)
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  42. G. S. Pomerants (1993). The Irrational in Politics. Russian Studies in Philosophy 32 (1):6-15.
    In the sixties I attempted to comprehend the Zen paradox: 1,400 years of handing down a tradition through absurd statements. I had to construct a theory of the absurd. It led me to the conclusion that not only connections among words could be absurd ; connections among objects themselves could also be absurd. God hung on the cross seemed an absurdity. The Apostle Paul acutely felt this absurdity, and later Tertullian felt it even more acutely. A thousand years later, for (...)
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  43. Boris Rähme (2002). Behauptung, Wahrheitsanspruch und Begründung. Überlegungen zum Wahrheitsproblem. In Holger Burckhart & Horst Gronke (eds.), Philosophieren aus dem Diskurs. Königshausen und Neumann.
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  44. Boris Rähme & Micha H. Werner (1997). Die Vielfalt der Lebensformen und die Einheit der Vernunft. Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 45 (3):439-454.
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  45. Eduardo García Ramírez (2011). Wookiee Statements, Semanticism, and Reasonable Assertion. Revista de Filosofía (Madrid) 35 (2):129-143.
    It is assumed that the content of an assertion is determined either by the semantically defined content or by the interaction of the latter with the context. Here I present a counterexample by means of the Wookiee problem. After considering several options I offer what appears to be its most satisfactory solution. This requires that we give up the assumption in favor of a view according to which it may be that semantic information does not at all determine the content (...)
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  46. R. M. Sainsbury (2011). Fiction and Acceptance-Relative Truth, Belief and Assertion. In Franck Lihoreau (ed.), Truth in Fiction. Ontos Verlag. 38--137.
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  47. Evan Simpson (1971). On the Assertion of Philosophical Doubt. Dialogue 10 (01):82-91.
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  48. Peter Smith (1976). Blackburn on Saying That. Philosophical Studies 30 (6):423 - 426.
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  49. Quentin Smith (1991). Concerning the Absurdity of Life. Philosophy 66 (255):119 - 121.
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  50. Robertc Stalnaker (2013). 7. Assertion. In Maite Ezcurdia & Robert J. Stainton (eds.), The Semantics-Pragmatics Boundary in Philosophy. Broadview Press. 179.
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