Assertion and mood : a cognitive account
This thesis seeks to provide a cognitive account of the speech act of assertion and its relationship to the indicative mood. It starts by critically reviewing the literature on assertion and the uses to which it has been put in linguistic and philosophical research. Through this review, key issues relating to assertion and mood are identified. These are then addressed in subsequent chapters. The second chapter lays the ground for a cognitive account of assertion and the indicative. It outlines the theoretical framework employed (Sperber & Wilson's Relevance Theory) and considers to what extent this is challenged by claims discussed in the previous chapter regarding the primacy of assertion over a conception of belief. Then, two distinct types of mental representation are identified according to whether or not they aim at consistency. This distinction is crucial to the third chapter, in which a new relevance-theoretic account of the indicative mood is developed and the conditions under which it can result in assertoric effects are identified. This follows a discussion of previous relevance-theoretic approaches to mood, in which it is argued that the approach adopted of matching moods to world-types cannot adequately explain the lack of assertoric potential of non-indicatives. The new approach rests on the claim that indicatives are unique in presenting the proposition expressed as potentially relevant in its own right in a context. Assertoric effects result when this potential is exploited so that the proposition expressed is presented as relevant in its own right to an individual. The final chapter throws the analysis of the indicative into relief by proposing an account of the Spanish subjunctive predicated on the claim that this form is incapable of presenting the proposition expressed as relevant in its own right.