Indirect Speech Acts

Synthese 128 (1):183-228 (2001)

Nicholas Asher
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
In this paper, we address several puzzles concerning speech acts, particularly indirect speech acts. We show how a formal semantic theory of discourse interpretation can be used to define speech acts and to avoid murky issues concerning the metaphysics of action. We provide a formally precise definition of indirect speech acts, including the subclass of so-called conventionalized indirect speech acts. This analysis draws heavily on parallels between phenomena at the speech act level and the lexical level. First, we argue that, just as co-predication shows 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 and others have suggested, both the lexicon and speech acts are subject to a principle of blocking or "preemption by synonymy": Conventionalized indirect speech acts can block their 'paraphrases' from being interpreted as indirect speech acts, even if this interpretation is calculable from Gricean-style principles. We provide a formal model of this blocking, and compare it with existing 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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Clause-Type, Force, and Normative Judgment in the Semantics of Imperatives.Nate Charlow - forthcoming - In Daniel Fogal Daniel Harris & Matt Moss (eds.), New Work on Speech Acts. Oxford University Press.

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