Assertion by Mark Jary (auth.)

By Mark Jary (auth.)

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This is because ‘know’ is a factive verb, and assigning an intention let the hearer know that P is to accept thereby that P. Before we consider this problem, note first that the comprehension/acceptance distinction is only an issue for assertive speech acts: in the interpretation of, for example, orders, questions and promises, interpretation and acceptance of the thought that the speaker wishes to communicate coincide. Correctly interpreting these speech acts requires the hearer forming, respectively, beliefs of the following type: (4) The speaker wants me to make it the case that P (5) The speaker wants to know whether P (6) The speaker promises that P Unless the hearer forms belief of these types, as a result of interpreting the utterance, he has not comprehended the utterance.

1 Brandom: assertion as discursive commitment Like Searle, Brandom sees assertion as essentially an undertaking of commitment. For Brandom, though, ascertaining the precise nature of this commitment is crucial, not just in order to understand assertion, but as the basis for a theory of linguistic meaning. Brandom’s view of assertion has its roots in Dummett’s characterisation of competence in this speech act as being a matter of grasping both of the conditions under which it is correct to make an assertion, and the consequences of doing so: Learning to use a statement of a given form involves [.

2 Barker: a speech-act theoretic approach to meaning Like Brandom, Barker (2004) seeks to ground an account of linguistic meaning in speech acts. Unlike Brandom, however, he seeks to do so in overtly psychologistic terms. Psychology enters his story in two ways: on the one hand, he analyses linguistic forms as indicators of characteristic associated intentions, and the interpretation of speaker meaning as relying on the hearer deciding whether the speaker actually has the intentions indicated (2004: 7, 45–62); on the other, the expressive powers of natural language are argued by Barker to be grounded in a more rudimentary representational system of cognitive ‘tracking states’ (2004: 19–20, ch.

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