Horizontalism is the thesis that what a speaker asserts in literally and sincerely uttering an indicative sentence is some horizontal proposition of her utterance; diagonalism is the thesis that what a speaker asserts in literally and sincerely uttering an indicative sentence is some diagonal proposition of her utterance. Recent work on assertion has reached no clear consensus favoring either horizontalism or diagonalism. I explore a novel strategy for adjudicating between the two views by considering the advantages and disadvantages which would accrue to a linguistic community as a result of adopting different committal practices—that is, practices of associating utterances with the propositions to which speakers undertake assertoric commitments in uttering them—ultimately concluding that a horizontalist practice has important advantages over its competitors.
KeywordsPragmatics Speech act theory Assertion
Thanks are due to Elisabeth Camp, Jeffrey C. King, Ernie Lepore, Paul Pietroski, Jeffrey Sanford Russell, and two anonymous referees for helpful comments on various drafts of this paper. I am especially indebted to Andy Egan and John Hawthorne for their detailed and extensive feedback on multiple early drafts.
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