I need to understand if implying something, knowingly or unknowingly, is the same as asserting it.

I also need to understand if it is merely semantics or there is a philosophical rigor to it.


For example, suppose I go on about how smoking cigarettes causes cancer and such fatalities, without ever saying explicitly "it is bad". Can the listener prove that I am actually saying it using available philosophical tools, or will it just be a subjective argument from both sides?


Obviously, the usage (like all usage) is going to depend on context.

In cases of logic, a distinction is drawn between what is explicitly asserted and that which is logically implied.

The technique of reduction ad absurdum (or Prasaṅga in Indian Logic) is often achieved by showing that there is a contradiction between what is implied by a set of assertions, and what is formally asserted.

From a moral standpoint, however, most people would argue that the implications (and foreseeable consequences) of an assertion are morally equivalent to the assertion itself.

  • So, implying and asserting are different when formal logic is applied? I didn't understand the reduuctio part. Could you elaborate on that please?
    – Gavin
    Apr 10 '12 at 14:24
  • 1
    In logic (formal or informal), propositions are asserted, and then conclusions are drawn inferentially from those propositions (and, often, other facts generally known to be true.) Regarding the reductio, it generally goes like this: I assert X. X implies Y, and Y implies Z. Since we know Z to be false, X cannot hold. Apr 10 '12 at 15:36

I'd answer that with "No, it's not the same", but logic isn't the right tool to hit that with. I think the difference is the moral aspect that Michael mentioned. Merely implying something doesn't put the speaker in the open, standing behind the implication. Asserting something puts the speaker in a clear position of responsibility for the implications as well.

Arguments that say that it's logically possible that one may say one thing but deny the implications... yes, that's logically possible. But as humans the assumption is that we understand each other through an appeal to common affectations. You cant beat the logical philosopher with that argument, but you can call him a wanker with it. (hope the language there isn't too inappropriate)

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