Building on the work of Peter Hinst and Geo Siegwart, we develop a pragmatised natural deduction calculus, i.e. a natural deduction calculus that incorporates illocutionary operators at the formal level, and prove its adequacy. In contrast to other linear calculi of natural deduction, derivations in this calculus are sequences of object-language sentences which do not require graphical or other means of commentary in order to keep track of assumptions or to indicate subproofs. (Translation of our German paper (...) "Ein Redehandlungskalkül. Ein pragmatisierter Kalkül des natürlichen Schließens nebst Metatheorie"; online available at http://philpapers.org/rec/CORERE.). (shrink)
Foundations of Speech Act Theory investigates the importance of speech act theory to the problem of meaning in linguistics and philosophy. The papers in this volume, written by respected philosophers and linguists, significantly advance standards of debate in this area.
Building on the work of Peter Hinst and Geo Siegwart, we develop a pragmatised natural deduction calculus, i.e., a natural deduction calculus that incorporates illocutionary operators at the formal level, and prove its adequacy. In contrast to other linear calculi of natural deduction, derivations in this calculus are sequences of object-language sentences which do not require graphical or other means of commentary in order to keep track of assumptions or to indicate subproofs.
This paper shows how to reconcile epistemic invariantism with the knowledge account of assertion. My basic proposal is that we can comfortably combine invariantism with the knowledge account of assertion by endorsing contextualism about speech acts. My demonstration takes place against the backdrop of recent contextualist attempts to usurp the knowledge account of assertion, most notably Keith DeRose’s influential argument that the knowledge account of assertion spells doom for invariantism and enables contextualism’s ascendancy. The paper’s plan: Section 1 explains (...) contextualism and invariantism. Section 2 recounts a common influential objection to contextualism, to wit, that its proponents confuse warranted assertability with truth. Section 3 reviews DeRose’s response to this objection, wherein he argues that contextualism’s opponent, in leveling this objection, is hoist with his own petard. Sections 4 – 6 develop resources for crafting a version of invariantism that escapes DeRose’s argument. Section 7 introduces us to this freshly equipped version of invariantism, which can be wedded to the knowledge account of assertion. Sections 8 – 11 entertain and respond to objections. Section 12 concludes our discussion by suggesting how our new invariantist could respond to the radical skeptic, in a way that rivals the anti-skeptical contextualist’s response. (shrink)
In Insensitive Semantics (2004), we argue for two theses – Semantic Minimalism and Speech Act Pluralism. In this paper, we outline our defense against two objections often raised against Semantic Minimalism. To get to that defense, we first need some stage setting. To that end, we begin with five stage setting sections. These lead to the first objection, viz., that it might follow from our view that comparative adjectives are context insensitive. We defend our view against that objection (not, (...) as you might expect, by denying that implication, but by endorsing it). Having done so, we address a second objection, viz., that Semantic Minimalism makes it difficult to see what role semantic content plays in communicative exchanges. We respond and end with a reversal, i.e., we argue that even though the second objection fails against us, it works against those who raise the objection. In particular, we show that Recanati ends up with a notion of communicated content that fails various tests for psychological reality. (shrink)
Recently, several philosophers have recast feminist arguments against pornography in terms of Speech Act Theory. In particular, they have considered the ways in which the illocutionary force of pornographic speech serves to set the conventions of sexual discourse while simultaneously silencing the speech of women, especially during unwanted sexual encounters. Yet, this raises serious questions as to how pornographers could (i) be authorities in the language game of sex, and (ii) set the conventions for sexual discourse - (...) questions which these speech act-theoretic arguments against pornography have thus far failed to adequately answer. I fill in this gap of the argumentation by demonstrating that there are fairly weak standards for who counts as an authority or convention-setter in sexual discourse. With this analysis of the underpinnings of a speech act analysis of pornography in mind, I discuss a range of possible objections. I conclude that (i) the endorsement of censorship by a speech act analysis of pornography competes with its commitment to the conventionality of speech acts, and, more damningly, that (ii), recasting anti-pornography arguments in terms of linguistic conventions risks an unwitting defence of a rapist's lack of mens rea - an intolerable result; and yet resisting this conclusion requires that one back away from the original claim to women's voices being 'silenced'. (shrink)
This paper applies speech-act theory to craft a new response to Pyrrhonian skepticism and diagnose its appeal. Carefully distinguishing between different levels of language-use and noting their interrelations can help us identify a subtle mistake in a key Pyrrhonian argument.
For the past two decades, speech-act theory has been one of the basic tools for studying pragmatics from both a theoretical and an experimental perspective. In this paper, I want to discuss certain aspects of the theory with respect to data from early communication in children. My aim will be to show that some of the central assumptions of the speech-act model of utterance comprehension need to be rethought. In the second part of the paper, I will outline (...) a different pragmatic approach to verbal understanding and present a preliminary application of this approach to the developmental data. (shrink)
Philosophers concerned with speech acts, or Wittgenstein's uses of language , mostly fix their attention on actions done by issuing just a phrase or short sentence (in the appropriate circumstances with the proper qualifications, feeling, intent, uptake, etc.). "Five red apples" is Wittgenstein's paradigm example in his Philosophical Investigations . "There's a bittern at the bottom of your garden" plays a similar role in J. L. Austin's most central and ambitious essay, "Other Minds." Indeed, as Wittgenstein points out, a (...) single word or gesture may do the job perfectly well, just as an illiterate man can make a valid contract by marking an "X" on a piece of paper. And, of course, in all relevant philosophical respects, a speech act may be written rather than spoken: in his leitmotiv example, Wittgenstein.. (shrink)
Understanding what it means toconsent is of considerable importance sincesignificant moral issues depend on how this actis defined. For instance, determining whetherconsent has occurred is the deciding factor insexual assault cases; its proper occurrence isa necessary condition for federally fundedhuman subject research. Even though mosttheorists recognize the legal and moralimportance of consent, there is still littleagreement concerning how consent should bedefined, or whether different domains involvingconsent demand context-specific definitions.Understanding what it means to consent isfurther complicated by the fact that currentlegal (...) conceptions are not necessarily groundedin argument; they typically depend on appealsto authority and precedent. The purpose ofthis paper is to use speech act theory toprovide a theoretically grounded conception ofconsent; such a conception can aid in the justresolution of legal and moral disputes thathinge on whether an act of consent occurred. (shrink)
In Insensitive Semantics (2004), we argue for two theses â€“ Semantic Minimalism and Speech Act Pluralism.Â In this paper, we outline our defense against two objections often raised against Semantic Minimalism. We begin with five stage-setting sections. These lead to the first objection, viz., that it might follow from our view that comparative adjectives are context insensitive. We defend our view against that objection (not, as you might expect, by denying that implication, but by endorsing it). Having done so, (...) we address a second objection, viz., that Semantic Minimalism makes it difficult to see what role semantic content plays in communicative exchanges. We respond and end with a reversal, i.e., we argue that even though the second objection fails against us, it works against those who raise the objection. In particular, we show that our critics, especially, Carston (2002) and Recanati (2004), end up with a notion of communicated content that fails various tests for psychological reality. (shrink)
Understanding what it means to consent is of considerable importance since significant moral issues depend on how this act is defined. For instance, determining whether consent has occurred is the deciding factor in sexual assault cases; its proper occurrence is a necessary condition for federally funded human subject research. Even though most theorists recognize the legal and moral importance of consent, there is still little agreement concerning how consent should be defined, or whether different domains involving consent demand context-specific definitions. (...) Understanding what it means to consent is further complicated by the fact that current legal conceptions are not necessarily grounded in argument; they typically depend on appeals to authority and precedent. The purpose of this paper is to use speech act theory to provide a theoretically grounded conception of consent; such a conception can aid in the just resolution of legal and moral disputes that hinge on whether an act of consent occurred. (shrink)
I argue that Derrida's critique of speech act theory is largely unsustainable because of its reliance on a questionable and insufficiently explicatedconception of philosophy as negative metaphysics8 and its attendant misconception of scientific theory construction in general and speech act theory in particular.
Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) has grown considerably over the past three decades. One form of SRI, engagement-SRI, is today by far the most practiced form of SRI (in assets managed) and has the potential to mainstream SRI even further. However, lack of formalized engagement procedures and evaluation tools leave the engagement practice too opaque for such a mainstreaming. This article can be considered as a first step in the development of a standard for the engagement practice. By developing an engagement (...) heuristic, this article offers a more transparent engagement dialog. Drawing on Stevenson’s and Austin’s speech-act theories, this article develops a classification of management’s responses to the signaling of allegations and controversies on two dimensions: a factual dimension concerning (dis)agreements on factual claims and an attitudinal dimension concerning (dis)agreements on responsibilities, values, and norms. On the basis of the distinctions this article develops, the authors provide for a synoptic table and offer a next-step heuristic for the engagement process that started with signaling a concern to management. The article uses an engagement logic that, while keeping the exit option for the investor open, allows management to address signaled concerns without having to let down or to opt out at the first setback in the dialog process between investor and investee corporation. (shrink)
That uses of language not only can, but even normally do have the character of actions was a fact largely unrealised by those engaged in the study of language before the present century, at least in the sense that there was lacking any attempt to come to terms systematically with the action-theoretic peculiarities of language use. Where the action-character of linguistic phenomena was acknowledged, it was normally regarded as a peripheral matter, relating to derivative or nonstandard aspects of language which (...) could afford to be ignored. (shrink)
The idea of a theory of speech acts, when taken in its strict sense,1 has been employed of late to indicate a bundle of theories growing out of J. L. Austin’s How to Do Things with Words of 1962. John Searle’s book Speech Acts, published in 1969, is undoubtedly the most conspicuous contribution to this theory to date. With the lapse of time, however, our distance to these fundamental works has become great enough to allow some reflection on (...) the criteria which must be met by a ‘theory of speech acts’ properly so called, so that it has become possible also to consider in this light candidate.. (shrink)
In this paper I want to examine the concept of 'conditions of fulfilment' or 'compliance' or 'satisfaction' which have been introduced by some authors in order to provide analyses of meaning which are just as adequate to directive speech acts as truth-conditional semantics are (claimed to be) adequate to assertive speech acts. It will be argued that this aim is missed. Most analyses (except those of some primitive cases) will remain throughout imcomplete as long as they are not (...) supplemented by a specification of conditions of normative validity. In the case of several illocutionary verbs they can be substituted by conditions under which the speaker could make use of sanctions against the hearer. (shrink)
The paper reconstructs and discusses three different approaches to the study of speech acts: (i) the intentionalist approach, according to which most illocutionary acts are to be analysed as utterances made with the Gricean communicative intentions, (ii)the institutionalist approach, which is based on the idea of illocutions as institutional acts constituted by systems of collectively accepted rules, and (iii) the interactionalist approach, the main tenet of which is that performing illocutionary acts consists in making conventional moves in accordance with (...) patterns of social interaction. It is claimed, first, that each of the discussed approaches presupposes a different account of thenature and structure of illocutionary acts, and, second, that all those approaches result from one-sided interpretations of Austin’s conception of verbal action. The first part of the paper reconstructs Austin's views on the functions and effects of felicitous illocutionary acts. The second part reconstructs and considers three different research developments in the post-Austinian speech act theory — the intentionalist approach, the institutionalist approach, and the interactionalist approach. (shrink)
Even though the lines of thought that support skepticism are extremely compelling, we're inclined to look for ways of blocking them because it appears to be an impossible view to accept, both for intellectual and practical reasons. One goal of this paper is to show that when skepticism is packaged right, it has few problematic implications (or at least fewer than is often assumed). It is, for example, compatible with all the following claims (when these are correctly interpreted).
This paper deals with two distinct topics; unwarranted questions and admittures. The traditional speech act analysis of questions needs revision, since among the felicity conditions of asking a question is believing that the question is warranted. Some questions are unwarranted according to my analysis. A question is unwarranted if the questioner is not standing in the right relation to the addressee, such that he can demand or expect a sincere answer. I use the idea of unwarranted questions to show (...) how conversational admittures can be generated. A conversational admitture is a non-intended admittance by the speaker of some state of affairs being believed by the speaker to be true. Under the assumption that the speaker is rational, the non-intended admittance is something that it is reasonable to credit the speaker with believing as an explanation of the speaker's unwillingness to be cooperative in a given conversation. In the last section I introduce what I call the Principle of Privacy, which tells us that we have a prima facie right to guard some of our thoughts, feelings, personal history, etc. I argue that the Principle of Privacy together with the ideas that there are unwarranted questions and conversational admittures, and the way unwarranted questions can be exploited to generate the latter, endows us with the right to lie in certain contexts. ; ; . (shrink)
That uses of language not only can, but even normally do have the character of actions was a fact largely unrealised by those engaged in the study of language before the present century, at least in the sense that there was lacking any attempt to come to terms systematically with the action-theoretic peculiarities of language use. Where the action-character of linguistic phenomena was acknowledged, it was normally regarded as a peripheral matter, relating to derivative or non-standard aspects of language which (...) could afford to be ignored. (shrink)
meaning of a proper name is simply its referent. This thesis, however, brings with it a whole host of problems. One particularly thorny difficulty is that of negative existentials, sentences of the form â€˜N does not existâ€™ (where â€˜Nâ€™ is a proper name). Intuitively, some such sentences are true, but the direct reference theory seems to imply that they must be either false or meaningless. After all, if the meaning of a name is just its referent, then a sentence such (...) as â€˜Mary does not existâ€™ is meaningless unless there exists a person Mary who is the referent of the name â€˜Maryâ€™. But if such a person exists, then the sentence denying her existence must be false.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Now it might be suggested that negative existentials involve a rather rare and specialized use of names, for which an alternate analysis might well be appropriate. One might, for example, have independent reasons for thinking that existence is not a predicate. Even if this is right, however, the analysis of fictional discourse poses difficulties for the direct reference theory that cannot be so easily avoided. The trouble is that fictional namesâ€”â€˜Sherlock Holmesâ€™ and â€˜Bilbo Bagginsâ€™, for exampleâ€”lack referents; fictional characters do not exist. As a result, a simple application of the direct reference view to fictional discourse is entirely untenableâ€”this would entail that claims regarding fictional characters are not only never true, but always meaningless.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The tendency in the philosophy of language has been to treat fictional discourse as a peripheral case, posing little threat to the direct reference view. And, as such, the fact that the analysis of fiction seems to run into intractable difficulties has been downplayed, and the fact the analyses on offer tend to be ad hoc has been tolerated. Typical strategies include treating fictional names as abbreviations for definite descriptions, supposing that fictional names occur within the scope of tacit fictive operators of various sorts, or taking them to directly refer to non-existent objects.. (shrink)
This paper discusses two possible formal approaches to the semantic/pragmatic characterisation of a subclass of the modal particles. It may well be that the approaches can be applied to other particles or that they can be applied to certain intonational patterns (e.g. contrastive stress), to morphemes (past tense, agreement) or to words (pronouns), constructions (some uses of deﬁnite descriptions, clefts), but I will not try to to show that here. The ﬁrst approach is based on the optimality theoretic reconstruction of (...) Blutner & J¨ ager (2000) of the theory of presupposition that has become fairly standard, the Heim (1983) and van der Sandt (1992) view of presuppositions as anaphora (see Zeevat (1992) for an introduction and comparison). The ﬁrst half of the paper critically reviews my earlier views on the treatment of particles in this setting, the second part introduces a novel view, again based on optimality theory, which takes as a starting point the marking constraints that are a necessary ingredient of my earlier treatment. (shrink)
This paper is divided in five sections. Section 11.1 sketches the history of the distinction between speech act with negative content and negated speech act, and gives a general dynamic interpretation for negated speech act. “Downdate semantics” for AGM contraction is introduced in Section 11.2. Relying on semantically interpreted contraction, Section 11.3 develops the dynamic semantics for constative and directive speech acts, and their external negations. The expressive completeness for the formal variants of natural language utterances, (...) none of which is a retraction, has been proved in Section 11.4. The last section gives a laconic answer to the question posed in the title of the paper. (shrink)
In recent discussions concerning the definition of argument, it has been maintained that the word ‘argument’ exhibits the process-product ambiguity, or an act/object ambigu-ity. Drawing on literature on lexical ambiguity we argue that ‘argument’ is not ambiguous. The term ‘argu-ment’ refers to an object, not to a speech act. We also examine some of the important implications of our argument by considering the question: what sort of abstract objects are arguments?
In his book on fallacies, Hamblin built a very simple system for argumentation in dialogue he called the Why Because System with Questions. In his discussion of this system, he replaced the concept of burden of proof with a simpler concept of initiative, which could be described as something like getting the upper hand as the argumentation moves back and forth in the dialogue between the one party and the other. No doubt he realized that the concept of burden of (...) proof was too complex a matter to be dealt with in the limited scope of his chapter on formal dialogue systems. In this paper is shown how an extended version of Hamblin’s dialogue system provides a nice way of modeling the phenomenon of shifting of burden of proof in a dialogue, yielding a precise way of distinguishing between different kinds of burden of proof, and dealing with fallacies like the argumentum ad ignorantiam (argument from negative evidence). (shrink)
In the last twenty years, recorded messages and written notes have become a significant test and an intriguing puzzle for the semantics of indexical expressions (see Smith 1989, Predelli 1996, 1998a,1998b, 2002, Corazza et al. 2002, Romdenh-Romluc 2002). In particular, the intention-based approach proposed by Stefano Predelli has proven to bear interesting relations to several major questions in philosophy of language. In a recent paper (Saul 2006), Jennifer Saul draws on the literature on indexicals and recorded messages in order to (...) criticize Rae Langton's claim that works of pornography can be understood as illocutionary acts – in particular acts of subordinating women or acts of silencing women. Saul argues that it does not make sense to understand works of pornography as speech acts, because only utterances in contexts can be speech acts. More precisely, works of pornography such as a film may be seen as recordings that can be used in many different contexts – exactly like a written note or an answering machine message. According to Saul, bringing contexts into the picture undermines Langton's radical thesis – which must be reformulated in much weaker terms. In this paper, I accept Saul's claim that only utterances in contexts can be speech acts, and that therefore only works of pornography in contexts may be seen as illocutionary acts of silencing women. I will, nonetheless, show that Saul's reformulation doesn't undermine Langton's thesis. To this aim, I will use the distinction Predelli proposes in order to account for the semantic behaviour of indexical expressions in recorded messages – namely the distinction between context of utterance and context of interpretation. (shrink)
This innovative collection addresses such themes as: the relation between the concept of truth and the success conditions of assertions and kindred speech acts the linguistic devices of expressing the truth of a proposition the relation ...
The theory of document acts is an extension of the more traditional theory of speech acts advanced by Austin and Searle. It is designed to do justice to the ways in which documents can be used to bring about a variety of effects in virtue of the fact that, where speech is evanescent, documents are continuant entities. This means that documents can be preserved in such a way that they can be inspected and modified at successive points in (...) time and grouped together into enduring document complexes. We outline some components of a theory of document acts, and show how it can throw light on certain problems in Searle’s ontology of social reality. (shrink)
Wittgenstein demystified the notion of 'observational self-knowledge'. He dislodged the long-standing conception that we have privileged access to our impressions, sensations and feelings through introspection, and more precisely eliminated knowing as the kind of awareness that normally characterizes our first-person present-tense psychological statements. He was not thereby questioning our awareness of our emotions or sensations, but debunking the notion that we come to that awareness via any epistemic route. This makes the spontaneous linguistic articulation of our sensations and impressions nondescriptive. (...) Not descriptions, but expressions that seem more akin to behaviour than to language. I suggest that Wittgenstein uncovered a new species of speech acts. Far from the prearranged consecration of words into performatives, utterances are deeds through their very spontaneity. This gives language a new aura: the aura of the reflex action. I argue, against Peter Hacker, that spontaneous utterances have the categorial status of deeds. This has no reductive consequences in that I do not suggest that one category is reduced to another, but that the boundary between them is porous. This explodes the myth of an explanatory gap between the traditionally distinct categories of saying (or thinking) and doing, or of mind and body. (shrink)
In Part I, I consider the normal contexts of assertions of belief and declarations of intentions, arguing that many action-guiding beliefs are accepted uncritically and even pre-consciously. I analyze the function of avowals as expressions of attempts at self-transformation. It is because assertions of beliefs are used to perform a wide range of speech acts besides that of speaking the truth, and because there is a large area of indeterminacy in such assertions, that self-deception is possible. In Part II, (...) I analyze the conditions of self-deception, and discuss the grounds on which it is regarded as irrational, even when particular instances may be beneficial. I consider some of the classical analyses of the motives for self-deception, and attempt to give an account of the occasions in which it is likely to occur. In the final section, I discuss the complex organization of the self that is presupposed by the phenomena of self-deception. (shrink)
Abstract: One oft-cited feature of speech acts is their expressive character: Assertion expresses belief, apology regret, promise intention. Yet expression, or at least sincere expression, is as I argue a form of showing: A sincere expression shows whatever is the state that is the sincerity condition of the expressive act. How, then, can a speech act show a speaker's state of thought or feeling? To answer this question I consider three varieties of showing, and argue that only one (...) of them is suited to help us answer our question. I also argue that concepts from the evolutionary biology of communication provide one source of insight into how speech acts enable one to show, and thereby express, a psychological state. (shrink)
This paper argues that understanding speech in terms of action requires dispensing with propositions. Austin's outline of speech act theory did not give any role to propositions, which were introduced into speech act theory later on, in order to cope with criticism leveled by Strawson and Searle at Austin's characterization of the locutionary act and his view of the truth/falsity assessment. The introduction of propositions had weakening effects on the claim that speech is action, foregrounding again (...) the received picture of linguistic communication. I show that, in order to make sense of Austin's characterization of the locutionary act, propositions are not needed and give some suggestions as to how one could give an account of the truth/falsity assessment, compatible with the claim that speech is action, without resorting to propositions. (shrink)
Speech acts have sometimes been considered as unembeddable, for principled reasons. In this paper, I argue that speech acts can be embedded under certain circumstances. In particular, I consider denegation and conjunction of speech acts, quantification into speech acts, conditionalization of speech acts, the embedding of speech acts by verbs like say and wonder, speechact-modifying adverbials like frankly, clauses commenting on speech acts, like certain uses of because-clauses, parentheticals, and appositive relative clauses. A (...) crucial distinction is made between speech acts and speech act potentials, linguistic objects that can be used to perform speech acts when applied in a specific communicative situation. I develop a semantic theory in which speech act potentials are captured as semantic functions that change a world-time index, reflecting the nature of speech acts as events that happen in the world. As index changers, speech act potentials become nearly regular semantic objects, with a proper semantic type on which other semantic objects can operate on. In this way, speech acts (or rather, speech-act potentials) become part of the recursive structure of language. (shrink)
: Although others have focused on Catharine MacKinnon's claim that pornography subordinates and silences women, I here focus on her claim that pornography constructs women's nature and that this construction is, in some sense, false. Since it is unclear how pornography, as speech, can construct facts and how constructed facts can nevertheless be false, MacKinnon's claim requires elucidation. Appealing to speech act theory, I introduce an analysis of the erroneous verdictive and use it to make sense of MacKinnon's (...) constructionist claims. I also show that the erroneous verdictive is of more general interest. (shrink)
Speech acts are a staple of everyday communicative life, but only became a topic of sustained investigation, at least in the English-speaking world, in the middle of the Twentieth Century. Since that time “speech act theory” has been influential not only within philosophy, but also in linguistics, psychology, legal theory, artificial intelligence, literary theory and many other scholarly disciplines. Recognition of the importance of speech acts has illuminated the ability of language to do other things than describe (...) reality. In the process the boundaries among the philosophy of language, the philosophy of action, the philosophy of mind and even ethics have become less sharp. In addition, an appreciation of speech acts has helped lay bare an implicit normative structure within linguistic practice, including even that part of this practice concerned with describing reality. Much recent research aims at an accurate characterization of this normative structure underlying linguistic practice. (shrink)
A common approach to drawing boundary between fiction and non-fiction is by appeal to the kinds of speech acts performed by authors of works of the respective categories. Searle, for example, takes fiction to be the product of illocutionary pretense of various kinds on the part of authors and non-fiction to be the product of genuine illocutionary action.1 Currie, in contrast, takes fiction to be the product of sui generis fictional illocutionary action on the part of authors and non-fiction (...) to be the product of assertion and other familiar kinds of illocutionary action.2 The central thesis of this paper is that the speech act approach to fictionality is simply a non-starter. Now it is, of course, commonplace to note that approaches of this kind run into difficulty accommodating nonliterary fictions3 and uncomposed or authorless fictions. What will be argued here, however, is that speech acts analyses are inadequate even understood narrowly as accounts of composed literary fiction. And the reason is that they fail to adequately attend to the distinction between composition and storytelling. (shrink)
: The question which this paper examines is that of the correct scope of the claim that extra-linguistic factors (such as gender and social status) can block the proper workings of natural language. The claim that this is possible has been put forward under the apt label of silencing in the context of Austinian speech act theory. The ‘silencing’ label is apt insofar as when one's ability to exploit the inherent dynamic of language is ‘blocked’ by one's gender or (...) social status then one might justly be said to be silenced. The notion that factors independent of any person's linguistic competence might block her ability to exploit the inherent dynamic of language is of considerable social as well as theoretical significance. I shall defend the claim that factors independent of a person's linguistic competence can indeed block her ability to do things with words but I will show that the cases that have been previously considered to be cases of illocutionary failure are instances of rhetic or locutionary act failure instead. I shall refine the silencing claim as previously advanced in the debate in at least one fundamental respect. I also show that considering the metaphysics of speech acts clarifies many of the issues previously appearing as thorny bones of contention between those who hold that the only notion of silencing that is coherent is that of physically preventing someone from speaking or writing and those who hold the opposite sort of claim sketched above. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, it aims at providing an account of an indirect mechanism responsible for establishing one's power to issue biding directive acts; second, it is intended as a case for an externalist account of illocutionary interaction. The mechanism in question is akin to what David Lewis calls presupposition accommodation: a rule-governed process whereby the context of an utterance is adjusted to make the utterance acceptable; the main idea behind the proposed account is that the (...) indirect power-establishing mechanism involves the use of imperative sentences that function as presupposition triggers and as such can trigger off the accommodating change of the context of their utterance. According to the externalist account of illocutionary interaction, in turn, at least in some cases the illocutionary force of an act is determined by the audience's uptake rather than by what the speaker intends or believes; in particular, at least in some cases it is the speaker, not her audience, who is invited to accommodate the presupposition of her act. The paper has three parts. The first one defines a few terms — i.e., an “illocution”, a “biding act”, the “audience's uptake” and an “Austinian presupposition” — thereby setting the stage for the subsequent discussion. The second part formulates and discusses the main problem of the present paper: what is the source of the agent's power to perform binding directive acts? The third part offers an account of the indirect power-establishing mechanism and discusses its externalist implications. (shrink)
Some of the systems used in natural language generation (NLG), a branch of applied computational linguistics, have the capacity to create or assemble somewhat original messages adapted to new contexts. In this paper, taking Bernard Williams’ account of assertion by machines as a starting point, I argue that NLG systems meet the criteria for being speech actants to a substantial degree. They are capable of authoring original messages, and can even simulate illocutionary force and speaker meaning. Background intelligence embedded (...) in their datasets enhances these speech capacities. Although there is an open question about who is ultimately responsible for their speech, if anybody, we can settle this question by using the notion of proxy speech, in which responsibility for artificial speech acts is assigned legally or conventionally to an entity separate from the speech actant. (shrink)
One of the most important and influential philosophers of the last 30 years, John Searle has been concerned throughout his career with a single overarching question: how can we have a unified and theoretically satisfactory account of ourselves and of our relations to other people and to the natural world? In other words, how can we reconcile our common-sense conception of ourselves as conscious, free, mindful, rational agents in a world that we believe comprises brute, unconscious, mindless, meaningless, mute physical (...) particles in fields of force? The essays in this collection are all related to the broad overarching issue that unites the diverse strands of Searle's work. Gathering in an accessible manner essays available only in relatively obscure books and journals, this collection will be of particular value to professionals and upper-level students in philosophy as well as to Searle's more extended audience in such fields as psychology and linguistics. (shrink)
The deontic modal must has two surprising properties: an assertion of must p does not permit a denial of p, and must does not take past tense complements. I first consider an explanation of these phenomena that stays within Angelika Kratzer’s semantic framework for modals, and then offer some reasons for rejecting that explanation. I then propose an alternative account, according to which simple must sentences have the force of an imperative.
An argument is usually said to be valid iff it is truth-preserving—iff it cannot be that all its premises are true and its conclusion false. But imperatives (it is normally thought) are not truth-apt. They are not in the business of saying how the world is, and therefore cannot either succeed or fail in doing so. To solve this problem, we need to find a new criterion of validity, and I aim to propose such a criterion.
This short essay attempts to challenge some of widely held philosophical assumptions on the nature of the relationship between logic, language and reality. In Section 1 the hegemony of theoretical logic is being questioned; Section 2 proposes a hypothesis on socially mediated semantics; Section 3 addresses the problem of ontology of logical sentential moods.
It has become standard for feminist philosophers of language to analyze Catherine MacKinnon's claim in terms of speech act theory. Backed by the Austinian observation that speech can do things and the legal claim that pornography is speech, the claim is that the speech acts performed by means of pornography silence women. This turns upon the notion of illocutionary silencing, or disablement. In this paper I observe that the focus by feminist philosophers of language on the (...) failure to achieve uptake for illocutionary acts serves to group together different kinds of illocutionary silencing which function in very different ways. (shrink)
What is the relationship between saying ‘I know that Q’ and guaranteeing that Q? John Austin, Roderick Chisholm and Wilfrid Sellars all agreed that there is some important connection, but disagreed over what exactly it was. In this paper I discuss each of their accounts and present a new one of my own. Drawing on speech-act theory and recent research on the epistemic norms of speech acts, I suggest that the relationship is this: by saying ‘I know that (...) Q’, you represent yourself as having the authority to guarantee that Q. (shrink)
The context or manner of an utterance can alter or nullify the speech-act that would normally be performed by utterances of that sort. Coercive contexts have this effect on some kinds of seeming assertions: they end up being non-assertoric, and are merely capitulations. An earlier version of this view is clarified, defended, and extended partly in response to a useful critique by Roy Sorensen. I examine some complications that arise regarding resistance to speaking under coercion when ideological or religious (...) commitments are implicated. (shrink)