How to Ask a Question in the Space of Reasons:Assertions, Queries, and the Normative Structure of Minimally Discursive Practices

Dissertation, Emory University (2014)

Authors
Jared A. Millson
California State University, Bakersfield
Abstract
Robert Brandom's normative-pragmatic theory is intended to represent the minimal set of practical abilities whose exhibition qualifies creatures as speaking a language. His model of a minimally discursive practice (MDP) is one in which participants, devoid of logical vocabulary, are only capable of making assertions and drawing inferences. This dissertation argues that Brandom's purely assertional practices are not MDPs and that speech acts of asking questions (queries) must be included in any practice that counts as an MDP. I propose several novel alternations to Brandom's deontic scorekeeping model of discourse, which I then utilize to generate a normative-pragmatic analysis of inquisitive practices. This analysis supports the claim that agents who can assert need to be able to ask questions and vice versa. The upshot is that intentionality belongs to those who can ask and answer questions.
Keywords Questions  Speech acts  Inferentialism  Interrogatives  Pragmatics  Brandom  Queries  Semantic Norms
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