Abstract

This paper considers what distinguishes speech acts such as asserting, stating and claiming from related ones such as suggesting, hinting and conversationally implicating. The distinction cannot be that assertion /et al/. have a word-to-world direction of fit, since suggesting, hinting, etc., do so as well. The same point applies to attempting to draw the distinction in terms of intentions to induce beliefs, etc. Our proposal, drawing on important ideas from Dummett and Williamson, is that assertion is intimately tied to declarative sentences, and to the knowledge norm, albeit is a more roundabout way than they imagined. In particular, declaratives are those devices purpose-built to trigger the knowledge norm; and to assert is to achieve the level of normative commitment that one would have achieved had one used a declarative.