Dissertation, University of Sheffield (2017)
AbstractThis thesis addresses philosophical problems concerning improper assertions. The first part considers the issue of defining lying: here, against a standard view, I argue that a lie need not intend to deceive the hearer. I define lying as an insincere assertion, and then resort to speech act theory to develop a detailed account of what an assertion is, and what can make it insincere. Even a sincere assertion, however, can be improper (e.g., it can be false, or unwarranted): in the second part of the thesis, I consider these kinds of impropriety. An influential hypothesis maintains that proper assertions must meet a precise epistemic standard, and several philosophers have tried to identify this standard. After reviewing some difficulties for this approach, I provide an innovative solution to some known puzzles concerning the permissibility of false assertions. In my view, assertions purport to aim at truth, but they are not subject to a norm that requires speakers to assert a proposition only if it is true.
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