Thursday, February 11, 2010

introduction to the assertiveness of non-assertoric propositions

I would like to reach a decision on the question of whether any proposition can remain without a truth-value on account of its not being asserted. First of all, it seems reasonable to ask whether there is any such thing as a proposition which is not asserted. Perhaps the special content of a propositional question? The question demands and waits for answer: is this so, or not? It incorporates a proposition into the structure of a demand. It asks for a decision, and this decision has built into it the same special content as does the demand. Should I assert this, or not? I should, if I find it true. Then how does this finding happen? Do I examine the proposition as a neutral object and then measure my beliefs for agreement or disagreement? If so, in what does this measuring consist, and how is it commensurable with the proposition? i should be looking for a belief that looks like the proposition or like its negation. This means that I must already know what the proposition says, and what my beliefs say, so that I can see whether my beliefs and the proposition say the same thing. But an unasserted proposition:--what does it say? Nothing, but that its assertion would say something. It is this latter something which is to be measured against my beliefs. Therefore, to undertake this measuring, I must first posit the assertion of the proposition, since the unasserted proposition says something incommensurable with the beliefs which need to be checked in order to decide whether I should make it.

Then it is impossible to reach a decision about an unasserted proposition, as to whether it should be asserted, and we do not find any proposition prior to the assertion of it. The appearance that the assertion of a proposition may be suspended in a question arises from the fact that we sometimes find ourselves trying to reach a decision on some point or other (as even now I am trying to do). We think that, because we have externalized the assertion in a realm of possibility, there has been no actual assertion. But wherever (in whatever "realm of being") we put it, we still actually put it there, as an assertion, and so we put it there along with the truth-value which is supposed to be deferred.