Mind and Language 31 (4):395-413 (2016)

Robert Stainton
Western University
What distinguishes full-on stating a proposition from merely communicating it? For instance, what distinguishes claiming/asserting/saying that one has never smoked crack cocaine from merely implying/conveying/hinting this? The enormous literature on ‘assertion’ provides many approaches to distinguishing stating from, say, asking and commanding: only the former aims at truth; only the former expresses one's belief; etc. But this leaves my question unanswered, since in merely communicating a proposition one also aims at truth, expresses a belief, etc. My aim is not to criticize extant accounts of the state-versus-merely-convey contrast, but rather to draw on clues from Dummett, functional linguistics and moral theory, to offer a novel one. The main idea is that full-on stating is distinctively conventionalized in a way that conversationally implicating, hinting, giving to understand, etc., are not. Specifically, full-on stating is constitutively tied to a particular conventional, linguistic, function-bearing device, the declarative sentence. To full-on state that p is to hit that ‘target speech act’ which owes its existence to that special-purpose device. It is therefore also to make one's action lie-prone. Nonetheless, once that sui generis target is there to be aimed for, a person may reach it without using the special-purpose tool—e.g. one may full-on state using a mere word or phrase, or coded hand signals, or semaphore. I end by considering several philosophical implications of this means of capturing the contrast.
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DOI 10.1111/mila.12112
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References found in this work BETA

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Citations of this work BETA

Metalinguistic Proposals.Nat Hansen - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy (1-2):1-19.
Assertion, Implicature, and Iterated Knowledge.Eliran Haziza - forthcoming - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.

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