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Kommentator Alexander Wiegmann, Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Assertions are speech acts by means of which we express beliefs. As such, they are at the heart of our linguistic and social practices. Recent research has focused extensively on the question whether the speech act of assertion is governed by norms, and if so, under what conditions it is acceptable to make an assertion. Standard theories propose, for instance, that one should only assert that p if one knows that p (the knowledge account), or that one should only assert that p if p is true (the truth account). In a series of experiments, I explore this question empirically. Contrary to the philosophical orthodoxy and previous findings, knowledge turns out to be a poor predictor of assertability, and the norm of assertion is not factive either. By contrast, the data gathered from native English, Japanese and German speakers provides evidence in favour of the view that a speaker is warranted to assert that p only if her belief that p is justified. In a further series of experiments, I then pursue the question whether our expectations in human-robot interaction differ from those in human-human interaction.
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