Assertion and the semantics of force-markers

In Claudia Bianchi (ed.), The Semantics/Pragmatics Distinction. CSLI Publications. pp. 133--166 (2004)
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In recent work, Williamson has defended a suggestive account of assertion. Williamson claims that the following norm or rule (the knowledge rule) is constitutive of assertion, and individuates it: (KR) One must ((assert p) only if one knows p) Williamson is not directly concerned with the semantics of assertion-markers, although he assumes that his view has implications for such an undertaking; he says: “in natural languages, the default use of declarative sentences is to make assertions” (op. cit., 258). In this paper I will explore Williamson’s view from this perspective, i.e., in the light of issues regarding the semantics of assertion-markers. I will end up propounding a slightly different account, on which, rather than KR, what is constitutive and individuating of assertion is an audience-involving transmission of knowledge rule: (TKR) One must ((assert p) only if one’s audience comes thereby to be in a position to know p) I will argue that TKR, of which KR is an illocutionary consequence (but not the other way around), has all the virtues that Williamson claims for his account and no new defect.
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