Performatives and Imperatives

European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 7 (2):17-34 (2011)
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Abstract

The term “performative” is used in at least two different senses. In the first sense, performatives are generatives, i.e. expressions by the use of which one creates new deontic states of affairs on the ground of extralinguistic conventions. In the second sense, performatives are operatives, i.e. expressions which contain verbal predicates and state their own utterances. In the article, both these types of expressions are compared to the class of imperatives which are characterized as expressions of the form “Let x see to it that p” and typically express wishes. It is claimed that (1) only these imperatives are generatives which are uttered by deontic authorities, (2) no imperative is an imperative sensu stricto; (3) imperative operatives are used instead of “pure” imperatives in order to emphasize the force of resolution.

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