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Commitment, communication, and content: toward a theory of assertion

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TitleInfo
Title
Commitment, communication, and content: toward a theory of assertion
Name (type = personal)
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Kirk-Giannini
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Cameron Domenico
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Cameron Domenico Kirk-Giannini
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Lepore
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Ernie
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Ernie Lepore
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Advisory Committee
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chair
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King
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Jeffrey C
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Jeffrey C King
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Advisory Committee
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co-chair
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Egan
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Andy
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Andy Egan
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Advisory Committee
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Camp
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Elisabeth
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Elisabeth Camp
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Advisory Committee
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internal member
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Pietroski
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Paul
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Paul Pietroski
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Advisory Committee
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internal member
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Hawthorne
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John
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John Hawthorne
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Advisory Committee
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outside member
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Rutgers University
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degree grantor
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School of Graduate Studies
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school
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Text
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theses
OriginInfo
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2019
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2019-05
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2019
Language
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English
Abstract (type = abstract)
According to a familiar and appealingly simple picture of assertion, the propositional content asserted by a speaker is both that which she communicates to members of her audience and that to which she undertakes a distinctive sort of commitment. In what follows, I develop a criticism of this familiar picture and propose an alternative account according to which assertoric content is more intimately associated with commitment than communication.
I begin by motivating a common claim about rational communication: that it cannot proceed when interlocutors are uncertain which contents utterances contribute to discourse. It emerges during my discussion of this claim that, given certain natural assumptions about the conditions under which it is rational for interlocutors to assert, it is possible to construct an argument from the premise that the propositional content asserted by a speaker is the information she communicates to members of her audience to the conclusion that speakers always assert diagonal propositions of their utterances — that is, propositions which characterize the information interlocutors can learn from their utterances by assuming that the propositions they semantically determine are true.
I proceed to argue that this latter claim, to which I refer as Diagonalism, systematically conflicts with our intuitive judgments about the conditions under which the contents of speakers' assertions would be true or false. It follows that the failure of Diagonalism requires us to abandon the claim that the propositional content asserted by a speaker is the information she communicates to members of her audience.
I then argue that, even if assertoric content does not play the role in communication it has often been thought to play, the familiar picture of assertion is at least half right: the propositional content asserted by a speaker is indeed that to which she undertakes a distinctive sort of commitment. I motivate this claim in two ways. First, I propose a diagnostic for identifying the propositional content to which a speaker becomes primarily committed in asserting and show that this diagnostic singles out assertoric content even in cases where what is asserted is not what is communicated. In the course of this argument, it emerges that the content of an assertion is usually its horizontal proposition — that is, the proposition it semantically determines in the context in which it is in fact uttered. Second, then, I argue that a linguistic community which adopts a practice of regarding its speakers as assertorically committed to the horizontal propositions of their utterances enjoys benefits not enjoyed by communities which adopt alternative committal practices, such as the practice of regarding speakers as assertorically committed to the diagonal propositions of their utterances.
Subject (authority = local)
Topic
Assertion
Subject (authority = RUETD)
Topic
Philosophy
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Rutgers University Electronic Theses and Dissertations
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ETD_9765
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application/pdf
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text/xml
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1 online resource (viii, 116 pages)
Note (type = degree)
Ph.D.
Note (type = bibliography)
Includes bibliographical references
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School of Graduate Studies Electronic Theses and Dissertations
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rucore10001600001
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Identifier (type = doi)
doi:10.7282/t3-5ch1-4c54
Genre (authority = ExL-Esploro)
ETD doctoral
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Rights

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The author owns the copyright to this work.
RightsHolder (type = personal)
Name
FamilyName
Kirk-Giannini
GivenName
Cameron Domenico
Role
Copyright Holder
RightsEvent
Type
Permission or license
DateTime (encoding = w3cdtf); (qualifier = exact); (point = start)
2019-04-10 22:09:59
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Name
Cameron Domenico Kirk-Giannini
Role
Copyright holder
Affiliation
Rutgers University. School of Graduate Studies
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Type
License
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Author Agreement License
Detail
I hereby grant to the Rutgers University Libraries and to my school the non-exclusive right to archive, reproduce and distribute my thesis or dissertation, in whole or in part, and/or my abstract, in whole or in part, in and from an electronic format, subject to the release date subsequently stipulated in this submittal form and approved by my school. I represent and stipulate that the thesis or dissertation and its abstract are my original work, that they do not infringe or violate any rights of others, and that I make these grants as the sole owner of the rights to my thesis or dissertation and its abstract. I represent that I have obtained written permissions, when necessary, from the owner(s) of each third party copyrighted matter to be included in my thesis or dissertation and will supply copies of such upon request by my school. I acknowledge that RU ETD and my school will not distribute my thesis or dissertation or its abstract if, in their reasonable judgment, they believe all such rights have not been secured. I acknowledge that I retain ownership rights to the copyright of my work. I also retain the right to use all or part of this thesis or dissertation in future works, such as articles or books.
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Type
Embargo
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2019-05-31
DateTime (encoding = w3cdtf); (qualifier = exact); (point = end)
2021-05-30
Detail
Access to this PDF has been restricted at the author's request. It will be publicly available after May 30th, 2021.
Copyright
Status
Copyright protected
Availability
Status
Open
Reason
Permission or license
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Technical

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