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If Amelia utters ‘Brad ate a salad in 2005’ assertorically, and she is speaking literally and sincerely, then I can infer that Amelia believes that Brad ate a salad in 2005. This paper discusses what makes this kind of inference truth-preserving. According to the baseline picture, my inference is truth-preserving because, if Amelia is a competent speaker, she believes that the sentence she uttered means that Brad ate a salad in 2005; thus, if Amelia believes that that sentence is true, then she must believe that Brad ate a salad in 2005. I argue that this view is not correct; on pain of irrationality, normal speakers can’t have specific beliefs about the meaning of the sentences they utter. I propose a new account, relying on the view that epistemically responsible speakers utter sentences assertorically only if they believe all the propositions which they think those sentences might mean.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-322
Number of pages22
JournalPhilosophical Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2023


  • assertion
  • belief ascriptions
  • knowledge of meaning
  • linguistic competence
  • semantic plasticity
  • semantic underdetermination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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