Non-Sentential Assertions and the Dependence Thesis of Word Meaning

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Abstract

To assert is to utter a sentence under certain conventions, claims Michael Dummett. This view runs afoul of empirical evidence indicating the widespread assertoric use of non-elliptical words and phrases. Dummett also advances two theses apparently related to his sentence conventionalism: that word meaning depends on sentence meaning, and that language is (in some sense) prior to thought. I argue that these latter two theses are independent of the empirically dubious Sentential Thesis. Plausibly, the wider Dummettian logico-metaphysical programme is not impugned by the existence of non-sentential assertions.

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