Wirken durch Anpassung Eine sprachphilosophische Erklärung der Wirksamkeit systemischer Fragen

Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 76 (2):288-296 (2022)
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Abstract

A central method of systemic therapy is the use of so called systemic questions. With these questions the therapist provides the client with an alternative and possibly less problematic description of reality. Since clients tend to tacitly accept these implicit offers by the therapist, systemic questions are often ascribed a "hypnotic" effect. In this paper, I will explain the "hypnotic" effect of systemic questions with the linguistic phenomenon of presupposition accommodation. For instance, in "Scorekeeping in a Language Game", David Lewis points out that speakers tend to tacitly accept the presuppositions of an utterance, because an utterance is only appropriate if its presuppositions are already part of common ground. Starting from this, I will argue with von Fintel's 'Hey, wait a minute' test that the implicit offers of systemic questions are nothing more than presuppositions of these questions. First, this will provide an explanation of the "hypnotic" effect of systemic question via the phenomenon of presupposition accommodation. In addition, it will explain how the implicit offers of systemic questions enable a new description of reality on the part of the client. In this way, the present paper is an example of how philosophy of language can be applied to problems outside of philosophy, providing further evidence that the research area of applied philosophy of language is real.

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Stefan Rinner
University of Hamburg

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