Kensuke Ito: “Truth and Falsity in Communication: Assertion, Denial, and Interpretation”

Check out alum Kensuke Ito's forthcoming article in Erkenntnis, "Truth and Falsity in Communication: Assertion, Denial, and Interpretation." The abstract may be found here.


Our linguistic communication is, in part, the exchange of truths. It is an empirical fact that in daily conversation we aim at truths, not falsehoods. This fact may lead us to assume that ordinary, assertion-based communication is the only possible communicative system for truth-apt information exchange, or at least has priority over any alternatives. This assumption is underwritten in three traditional doctrines: that assertion is a basic notion, in terms of which we define denial; that to predicate truth of a sentence is to assert the content it expresses; and that one should, in the context of radical interpretation, try to maximize the truth of what foreigners believe or utter. However, I challenge this assumption via a thought experiment: imagine a language game in which everyone aims to exchange only falsehoods. I argue that information exchange is possible in this game, and so truth-guided communication and falsity-guided communication are conceptually on a par. As a consequence, we should reject the three doctrines, based as they are on the conceptual priority of assertion-based communication.