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date: 17 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This essay is an opinionated exploration of the constraints that modal discourse imposes on the theory of assertion. Primary focus is on the question whether modal discourse challenges the traditional view that all assertions have propositional content. This question is tackled largely with reference to discourse involving epistemic modals, although connections and parallels with deontic modals and conditionals are noted along the way. The essay also discusses the impact of the idiosincrasies of modal discourse on the theory of assertion. The first topic in this thread is whether the relevant fragment of modal discourse is subject to some of the norms of assertion that are ordinarily invoked for nonmodal discourse. The second topic is whether theories of assertion that focus on the effects of assertions on context must be viewed as fundamentally disjunctive in order to capture the distinctions between modal and nonmodal assertion.

Keywords: assertion, modals, propositions, non-factualism, norms of assertion, epistemic language

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