Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 26 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores, defends and develops the implications of the view that rhetorical questions are often used to make assertions, albeit indirectly. After introducing the phenomenon through a variety of examples, reflecting on the philosophical significance of that phenomenon and defining several key terms, the author explains why she regards rhetorical questions as models of indirect assertion. She then presents and informally analyzes a lengthy passage from the neuroethics literature involving a series indirect assertions made by way of rhetorical questions. This is followed by a trio of arguments in defense of that analysis. These arguments involve appeals to: punctuation, “asserogatives” (questions asked indirectly by making assertions), the lying/misleading distinction, ontological parsimony, and Gricean methodology. In the conclusion section, she draws attention to, and briefly remarks on, a host of questions raised by the proposed view—questions which would need to be addressed in a more fully developed and defended account of rhetorical questions as indirect assertions.

Keywords: rhetorical questions, indirection, assertions, claims, queclaratives, asserogatives, indirect speech acts, punctuation, lying versus misleading

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.