The book presents a theory of illocutionary acts. It argues that the study of speech acts initiatied by Austin complements the truth theoretic approach to speaker meaning. It is shown that there are aspects of speaker meaning which cannot be explained by truth theoretic approaches. Though the nature of a speech act is partially determined by the semantic type of the the sentence uttered the speaker's intention and context of utterance are important also.
It has been proposed by Dawkins, Dennett and others that memes are the units of cultural evolution. We here concentrate on Dennett's account because of the role it plays in his explanation of human consciousness - which is our principal target. Memes are claimed to be replicators that work on Darwinian principles. But in what sense are they replicators, and in what way are they responsible for their own propagation? We argue that their ability to replicate themselves is severely limited, (...) particularly in the case of language-borne memes. We contend, too, that the theory has unacceptable consequences for the role of design in accounting for cultural change, unless we seriously want to entertain the thought that design has as little relevance to cultural evolution as it does to the evolution of species. Finally, we argue that the account fails to do justice to the complexities of social practices. (shrink)
Bradley thought that there is a connexion between the theory of reality and the theory of truth. The theory of reality to which he subscribed, Monism, rules out a correspondence theory of truth, he thought, since it denies the existence of a plurality of facts, or things, in virtue of correspondence to which a judgment could be true. But though he rejects the correspondence theory he insists on the independence of truth from belief, wish and hope. For him the test (...) of truth is coherence, which has two aspects, system and comprehensiveness. However, he does not think that this test yields ?absolute? truth. This, he maintains, for at least three different reasons, is unobtainable. Judgments can only be partially true. However, since there are degrees of truth, some judgments are closer to the truth than others, even though none are, or could be, unconditionally true. (shrink)
In ‘A Plea For Excuses’ Austin observes that there are many situations in which a person accused of doing an action A wishes to protest that it is not altogether accurate or fair to say that he did A. The person may wish to excuse himself from an accusation of doing A on the grounds that what happened was inadvertent, or the result of an accident, or done by mistake etc. etc. Moreover if he really has an excuse, then it (...) will no longer be possible simply to say that he did A, because it will be seen that either it is not true that he did anything at all, or that whatever he did it was not A but something else, or that he did A in such a manner that simply to say that he did it would be misleading in the extreme. (shrink)
Bradley’s first work, The Presuppositions of Critical History, was published in 1874 when he was 28, and was followed shortly by the publication of Ethical Studies ‘in 1876. T.S. Eliot, who wrote his doctoral thesis on Bradley and was a great admirer of not only his philosophy but also his prose, described the British philosopher as a ‘master of style’; but that of The Presuppositions often seems over embellished, even a little pretentious. Moreover, though the argument is dense it is (...) compressed into only forty five pages; and it has to be said that the text is not easy to follow, in part because it is dense, in part because of the style, and in part because it is not immediately apparent how to reconcile its two principal theses. The first of these maintains that historical testimony has to be evaluated from the standpoint of one’s personal scientific beliefs and judgments, so that if what is attested to conflicts with the latter, it cannot be accepted. The second thesis maintains that natural science and history are distinct, thereby denying the positivistic conception of history which is, at first sight anyway, implied by the first thesis. (shrink)