What is Cognitive Science

Assertion, qualified

Peter van Elswyk

Thursday, September 29, 2016, 12:00pm - 01:00pm

Graduate Student, Rutgers University, Department of Philosophy

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An assertion is an act that a speaker performs by using a declarative sentence to present a proposition for others to accept. Most work on assertion considers assertions performed only with unqualified declaratives like (1):

(1) Simone won gold.

(2) Simone won gold, I heard.

I will argue that this is an oversight. In particular, I will defend that assertions can also be performed with qualified declaratives like (2) as well as declaratives with grammatically obligatory evidentials that have a similar effect in other languages. I will further defend that these declaratives are not about the speaker’s epistemic position—(1) and (2) assert the same proposition, for example. A consequence of countenancing assertions performed by such declaratives is that much theorizing about assertion is mistaken. Contrary to the traditional views of Stalnaker, Clark, and others, assertion is not a proposal for mutual acceptance. A speaker needn’t accept what she asserts.

Peter van Elswyk


"What is Cognitive Science?"

This lunchtime talks series is designed to introduce the University community to issues in Cognitive Science. Cognitive Science is one the the few fields where modern developments in computer science and artificial intelligence promise to shed light on classical problems in psychology and the philosophy of the mind. Ancient questions of how we see the world, understand language, and reason, and questions such as 'how a material system can know about the outside world', are being explored with the powerful new conceptual prosthetics of computer modeling.

The talks in this lunchtime lecture series are every Thursday during the Fall semester from ** 12:00-1:00 ** in the Psychology Building, Room 101 on  Busch Campus.

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