Indirect speech acts

Synthese 128 (1-2):183 - 228 (2001)
Abstract
In this paper, we address several puzzles concerning speech acts,particularly indirect speech acts. We show how a formal semantictheory of discourse interpretation can be used to define speech actsand to avoid murky issues concerning the metaphysics of action. Weprovide a formally precise definition of indirect speech acts, includingthe subclass of so-called conventionalized indirect speech acts. Thisanalysis draws heavily on parallels between phenomena at the speechact level and the lexical level. First, we argue that, just as co-predicationshows that some words can behave linguistically as if they're `simultaneously'of incompatible semantic types, certain speech acts behave this way too.Secondly, as Horn and Bayer (1984) and others have suggested, both thelexicon and speech acts are subject to a principle of blocking or ``preemptionby synonymy'': Conventionalized indirect speech acts can block their`paraphrases' from being interpreted as indirect speech acts, even ifthis interpretation is calculable from Gricean-style principles. Weprovide a formal model of this blocking, and compare it withexisting accounts of lexical blocking.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Logic   Metaphysics   Philosophy of Language
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1010340508140
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