In Sarah Sawyer (ed.), New Waves in Philosophy of Language. Palgrave-Macmillan (2009)

Max Kölbel
University of Vienna
The aim of this paper is to motivate and defend a conventional approach to assertion and other illocutionary acts. Such an approach takes assertions, questions and orders to be moves within an essentially rule-governed activity similar to a game. The most controversial aspect of a conventional account of assertion is that according to it, for classifying an utterance as an assertion, question or command, “it is irrelevant what intentions the person speaking may have had” (Dummett 1973, p. 302). I understand this to mean that it is irrelevant for the issue of whether an utterance is an assertion whether the utterer has certain communicative intentions, such as the intention to utter something true, the intention to get one’s audience to believe (that one believes) what one has asserted etc. Just as one can commit a foul in football without meaning to do so, one can make an assertion, issue a command or ask a question without meaning to do so. The rules of football specify that a certain form of conduct (tackling an opponent in a certain way), carried out under certain general conditions (being a member of a team engaged in a game of football) counts as committing a foul. Similarly, I claim, the rules of language specify that a certain form of conduct (uttering an assertoric sentence), carried out under certain general conditions (being a member of a speech community engaged in a conversation) counts as making an assertion.
Keywords Illocutionary force  assertion  convention
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References found in this work BETA

Knowledge and Its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Philosophy 76 (297):460-464.
Scorekeeping in a Language Game.David Lewis - 1979 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 8 (1):339--359.
Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language.William P. Alston - 1970 - Philosophical Quarterly 20 (79):172-179.

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Citations of this work BETA

Problems with Norms of Assertion.Peter Pagin - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (1):178-207.
Truth and Assertion: Rules Vs Aims.Neri Marsili - 2018 - Analysis 78 (4):638–648.
Pretense, Cancellation, and the Act Theory of Propositions.Manuel García-Carpintero - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
Content, Mood, and Force.Francois Recanati - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (7):622-632.

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