Document Type



Master of Arts



Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Eric Wiland


Eric Wiland

Gualtiero Piccinini

David Griesedieck


My main aim is to define assertiveness, to distinguish assertiveness from aggressiveness, and to raise the question of whether we should be assertive. Most articles on assertiveness are from the field of psychology. In psychology, assertiveness is defined as a healthy way of expressing oneself. But what does assertiveness mean? How should we define assertiveness and is assertiveness desirable, or is it closely connected to aggressiveness? Should we say that assertiveness is a part of our character, an innate quality, or an acquired skill? In this thesis, I will define assertiveness and show how to distinguish assertiveness from aggressiveness. Most issues arise due to the close linkage between these two terms, but assertiveness is different from aggressiveness. Since this topic is rarely explored, I approach it from the angle of continental philosophy and look at what assertiveness means in the philosophy of language, psychology, literature, and mythology. I conclude that even though assertiveness could be a very complex term and difficult to define, it is distinct from aggressiveness. There are three important factors connected to assertiveness: freedom, courage, and respect. The wish for freedom and courage are necessary for each person to acquire assertiveness. Respect is required in social interaction and it is essential in distinguishing assertiveness and aggressiveness.

Available for download on Friday, April 26, 2024