Before he came to Leipzig in April 2013, Yiwen Zhan studied philosophy, musicology, and sinology at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, where he finished his Magisterarbeit on John McDowell. His work focuses on the semantic/pragmatic and the explicit/implicit boundary in language. He is especially interested in understanding the role such boundary would play in the dynamics of belief and conversation, and, furthermore, how it might help to explain our epistemic finitude as well as the possibility of conceptual innovation. He has recently finished his dissertation on assertion.
The Power in Assertion: Discursive Agency, Norms, and the Unity of Thought
In his dissertation, Yiwen Zhan defends a novel account of the pragmatics of assertion. By exploring the significance of the conception of the assertoric force, he explains how a non-trivial pragmatic approach to assertion can be fitted into the semantic picture of Fregean content. In particular, he argues that we can view assertions as an agent’s performative speech-act of commitment to the content’s truth or propriety at the context of her speech. He explains how such a view, on the one hand, allows for our assertions’ context-sensitivity and hence for the plurality of their relevant evaluative norms, yet on the other hand, also allows for the possibility for one to genuinely disagree with another and hence allows for assertion-evaluation through changing contexts. He also discusses how issues concerning the force–content relation, non-assertoric contents, constitutive norms of assertion, belief and the conversational dynamics, and a general notion for the power of rational thinking, etc. could be accordingly accounted for under his approach.