Abstract for Goldberg’s Talk

In this paper I argue that there is a presumptive (albeit defeasible) entitlement for participants in a conversation to assume that a hearer’s silence in the face of an observed assertion indicates acceptance.  I argue for this on the basis of evidence regarding our actual practice of assertion, together with considerations pertaining to the normative dimensions of that practice.  One result of my thesis is that in contexts in which a hearer is known to have observed an assertion, she is under prima facie normative pressure, if she rejects the assertion, to signal having done so.  After defending these claims, I address the variety of contexts in which the entitlement itself is defeated (including but not limited to conditions of oppression or “silencing”).