Illocutionary acts : Austin's account and what Searle made out of it

As is shown in the introduction of the book, the notion "illocutionary act" is used with quite a number of essentially different meanings; consequently, it is quite unclear what an "illocutionary act" is actually supposed to be. This problem is the starting point of the thesis. An argument is stated, to the effect that the introduction and use of scholarly terms like, for instance, "illocutionary act", or "performative sentence", is not entirely arbitrary. It is argued that technical terms should not be re-defined without a reason, but in the absence of reasons to the contrary should be used in the way in which they have originally been introduced. This argument is applied to the notion "illocutionary act". John L. Austin is the one who introduced this notion. Consequently, his conception of these acts should be adopted unless there are good reasons to the contrary. Therefore the book provides a detailed analysis of Austin's account, and his original conception of these acts is reconstructed. The most popular alternative account of "illocutionary acts" is John R. Searle's. Therefore, secondly, the book provides an analysis of Searle's famous account of "illocutionary acts" - the first really detailed one available, including Searle's own work. It is shown that what Searle presents is in fact extremely sketchy, and can certainly not be viewed, as it often is, as an elaborated theory. It is further argued that the fundamental assumptions about language which Searle intends to illustrate with his account of "illocutionary acts" are mistaken, so that in general a theory following the lines Searle suggests is doomed to failure. Finally it is shown that Searle's account of "illocutionary acts", as far as it goes, is not an adequate adoption of the conception Austin introduced. Hence Searle's account is no reasonable alternative to Austin's account.
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