The Power in Assertion: Discursive Agency, Norms, and the Unity of Thought

(Universität Leipzig, Dissertation)

In my dissertation I defend a novel account of assertion. By exploring the significance of the conception of the assertoric force, I explain how a non-trivial pragmatic approach to assertion can be fitted into the semantic picture of Fregean content. Specifically, I argue that we can view assertions as agents' performative speech-acts of commitment to the contents' truth or propriety at the context of speech. I explain how such a view allows for, on the one hand, our assertions' context-sensitivity and hence the plurality of their relevant evaluative norms, yet on the other hand, also the possibility for one to genuinely disagree with another and hence the assertion-evaluation through changing contexts. I also discuss how issues concerning force–content relation, non-assertoric contents, constitutive norms of assertion, belief and the conversational dynamics, and a general notion of the power of rational thinking, etc. could be accordingly accounted for under my approach.

A longer, 5-page summary of my dissertation can be downloaded here.

You can also download the table of contents here.