The primary units of meaning in the use and comprehension of language are speech acts of the type called illocutionary acts. In Foundations of Illocutionary Logic John Searle and Daniel Vanderveken presented the first formalized logic of a general theory of speech acts. In Meaning and Speech Acts Daniel Vanderveken further develops the logic of speech acts and the logic of propositions to construct a general semantic theory of natural languages. Volume I, Principles of Language Use, (...) explains the general principles that connect meaning, reason, thought and speech acts in the semantic structure of language. It presupposes no detailed knowledge of logical formalism, and will be accessible to a large readership of students and scholars from philosophy, lingustics, cognitive psychology and computer science. Volume II, Formal Semantics of Success and Satisfaction uses the resources of philosophical and mathematical logics to develop a formalization of the laws of the semantic theory advanced in Volume I. It will be of interest to theoretical linguists and those involved in mathematical logic and artificial intelligence. (shrink)
The contributions in this volume result from discussions on and with John R. Searle, containing Searle's own latest views - including his seminal ideas on Rationality in Action. The collection provides a good basis for advanced seminar debates in philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and social philosophy, and will also stimulate some further research on all of the three main topics.
What makes it the case that an utterance constitutes an illocutionary act of a given kind? This is the central question of speech-act theory. Answers to it—i.e., theories of speech acts—have proliferated. Our main goal in this chapter is to clarify the logical space into which these different theories fit. -/- We begin, in Section 1, by dividing theories of speech acts into five families, each distinguished from the others by its account of the key ingredients in (...) illocutionary acts. Are speech acts fundamentally a matter of convention or intention? Or should we instead think of them in terms of the psychological states they express, in terms of the effects that it is their function to produce, or in terms of the norms that govern them? In Section 2, we take up the highly influential idea that speech acts can be understood in terms of their effects on a conversation’s context or “score”. Part of why this idea has been so useful is that it allows speech-act theorists from the five families to engage at a level of abstraction that elides their foundational disagreements. In Section 3, we investigate some of the motivations for the traditional distinction between propositional content and illocutionary force, and some of the ways in which this distinction has been undermined by recent work. In Section 4, we survey some of the ways in which speech-act theory has been applied to issues outside semantics and pragmatics, narrowly construed. (shrink)
This book demonstrates the presence of literature within speech act theory and the utility of speech act theory in reading literary works. Though the founding text of speech act theory, J. L. Austin's _How to Do Things with Words_, repeatedly expels literature from the domain of felicitous speech acts, literature is an indispensable presence within Austin's book. It contains many literary references but also uses as essential tools literary devices of its own: imaginary stories that serve (...) as examples and imaginary dialogues that forestall potential objections. _How to Do Things with Words_ is not the triumphant establishment of a fully elaborated theory of speech acts, but the story of a failure to do that, the story of what Austin calls a "bogging down." After an introductory chapter that explores Austin's book in detail, the two following chapters show how Jacques Derrida and Paul de Man in different ways challenge Austin's speech act theory generally and his expulsion of literature specifically. Derrida shows that literature cannot be expelled from speech acts—rather that what he calls "iterability" means that any speech act may be literature. De Man asserts that speech act theory involves a radical dissociation between the cognitive and positing dimensions of language, what Austin calls language's "constative" and "performative" aspects. Both Derrida and de Man elaborate new speech act theories that form the basis of new notions of responsible and effective politico-ethical decision and action. The fourth chapter explores the role of strong emotion in effective speech acts through a discussion of passages in Derrida, Wittgenstein, and Austin. The final chapter demonstrates, through close readings of three passages in Proust, the way speech act theory can be employed in an illuminating way in the accurate reading of literary works. (shrink)
Not every speech act can be a lie. A good definition of lying should be able to draw the right distinctions between speech acts that can be lies and speech acts that under no circumstances are lies. This paper shows that no extant account of lying is able to draw the required distinctions. It argues that a definition of lying based on the notion of ‘assertoric commitment’ can succeed where other accounts have failed. Assertoric commitment is analysed (...) in terms of two normative components: ‘accountability’ and ‘discursive responsibility’. The resulting definition of lying draws all the desired distinctions, providing an intensionally adequate analysis of the concept of lying. (shrink)
Speech acts are a staple of everyday communicative life, but only became a topic of sustained investigation, at least in the English-speaking world, in the middle of the Twentieth Century. Since that time “speech act theory” has been influential not only within philosophy, but also in linguistics, psychology, legal theory, artificial intelligence, literary theory and many other scholarly disciplines. Recognition of the importance of speech acts has illuminated the ability of language to do other things than describe (...) reality. In the process the boundaries among the philosophy of language, the philosophy of action, the philosophy of mind and even ethics have become less sharp. In addition, an appreciation of speech acts has helped lay bare an implicit normative structure within linguistic practice, including even that part of this practice concerned with describing reality. Much recent research aims at an accurate characterization of this normative structure underlying linguistic practice. (shrink)
In the last twenty years, recorded messages and written notes have become a significant test and an intriguing puzzle for the semantics of indexical expressions (see Smith 1989, Predelli 1996, 1998a,1998b, 2002, Corazza et al. 2002, Romdenh-Romluc 2002). In particular, the intention-based approach proposed by Stefano Predelli has proven to bear interesting relations to several major questions in philosophy of language. In a recent paper (Saul 2006), Jennifer Saul draws on the literature on indexicals and recorded messages in order to (...) criticize Rae Langton's claim that works of pornography can be understood as illocutionary acts – in particular acts of subordinating women or acts of silencing women. Saul argues that it does not make sense to understand works of pornography as speech acts, because only utterances in contexts can be speech acts. More precisely, works of pornography such as a film may be seen as recordings that can be used in many different contexts – exactly like a written note or an answering machine message. According to Saul, bringing contexts into the picture undermines Langton's radical thesis – which must be reformulated in much weaker terms. In this paper, I accept Saul's claim that only utterances in contexts can be speech acts, and that therefore only works of pornography in contexts may be seen as illocutionary acts of silencing women. I will, nonetheless, show that Saul's reformulation doesn't undermine Langton's thesis. To this aim, I will use the distinction Predelli proposes in order to account for the semantic behaviour of indexical expressions in recorded messages – namely the distinction between context of utterance and context of interpretation. (shrink)
I defend the view that linguistic meaning is a relation borne by an expression to a type of speech act, and that this relation holds in virtue of our overlapping communicative dispositions, and not in virtue of linguistic conventions. I argue that this theory gives the right account of the semantics–pragmatics interface and the best-available semantics for non-declarative clauses, and show that it allows for the construction of a rigorous compositional semantic theory with greater explanatory power than both truth-conditional (...) and dynamic semantics. (shrink)
We give a brief overview of several recent strands of speech-act theory, and then survey some issues in social and political philosophy can be profitably understood in speech-act-theoretic terms. Our topics include the social contract, the law, the creation and reinforcement of social norms and practices, silencing, and freedom of speech.
This paper argues for a reorientation of speech act theory towards an Austin-inspired conception of speech acts as context-changing social actions. After an overview of the role assigned to context by Austin, Searle, and other authors in pragmatics, it is argued that the context of a speech act should be considered as constructed as opposed to merely given, limited as opposed to extensible in any direction, and objective as opposed to cognitive. The compatibility of such claims with (...) each other is discussed. Finally, the context-changing role of speech acts is analyzed differentiating between the illocutionary and the perlocutionary dimension. (shrink)
Speech act theory seems to provide a promising avenue for the analysis of the functional organization of argument. The theory, however, might be taken to suggest that arguments are a homogenous class of speech act with a specifiable illocutionary force and a single set of felicity conditions. This suggestion confuses the analysis of the meaning of speech act verbs with the analysis of the pragmatic structure of actual language use. Suggesting that arguments are conveyed through a homogeneous (...) class of linguistic action overlooks the way in which the context of activity and the form of expression organize the argumentative functions performed in using language. An alternative speech act analysis would treat folk terminology as a heuristic entry point into the development of a technical analysis of the myriad argumentative functions and structures to be found in natural language use. This would lead to a thorough-going pragmatic analysis of the rational and functional design of speech acts in argumentation. (shrink)
John Searle's Speech Acts made a highly original contribution to work in the philosophy of language. Expression and Meaning is a direct successor, concerned to develop and refine the account presented in Searle's earlier work, and to extend its application to other modes of discourse such as metaphor, fiction, reference, and indirect speech arts. Searle also presents a rational taxonomy of types of speech acts and explores the relation between the meanings of sentences and the contexts of (...) their utterance. The book points forward to a larger theme implicit in these problems - the basis certain features of speech have in the intentionality of mind, and even more generally, the relation of the philosophy of language to the philosophy of mind. (shrink)
Catharine MacKinnon has claimed that pornography is the subordination of women. Rae Langton has defended the plausibility and coherence of this claim by drawing on speech act theory. I argue that considering the role of context in speech acts poses serious problems for Langton's defence of MacKinnon. Langton's account can be altered in order to accommodate the role of context. Once this is done, however, her defence of MacKinnon no longer looks so plausible. Finally, I argue that the (...)speech act approach (adapted to account for context) offers an appealing way to make sense of disagreements over pornography; but also that this will probably not be so appealing to most proponents of the speech acts approach. (shrink)
Abstract: One oft-cited feature of speech acts is their expressive character: Assertion expresses belief, apology regret, promise intention. Yet expression, or at least sincere expression, is as I argue a form of showing: A sincere expression shows whatever is the state that is the sincerity condition of the expressive act. How, then, can a speech act show a speaker's state of thought or feeling? To answer this question I consider three varieties of showing, and argue that only one (...) of them is suited to help us answer our question. I also argue that concepts from the evolutionary biology of communication provide one source of insight into how speech acts enable one to show, and thereby express, a psychological state. (shrink)
In this paper I provide a new account of linguistic presuppositions, on which they are ancillary speech acts defined by constitutive norms. After providing an initial intuitive characterization of the phenomenon, I present a normative speech act account of presupposition in parallel with Williamson’s analogous account of assertion. I explain how it deals well with the problem of informative presuppositions, and how it relates to accounts for the Triggering and Projection Problems for presuppositions. I conclude with a brief (...) discussion of the consequences of the proposal for the adequacy of Williamson’s account of assertion. (shrink)
In this essay I show how to reconcile epistemic invariantism with the knowledge account of assertion. My basic proposal is that we can comfortably combine invariantism with the knowledge account of assertion by endorsing contextualism about speech acts. My demonstration takes place against the backdrop of recent contextualist attempts to usurp the knowledge account of assertion, most notably Keith DeRose's influential argument that the knowledge account of assertion spells doom for invariantism and enables contextualism's ascendancy.
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 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 (1984) 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. (shrink)
We offer a novel picture of mathematical language from the perspective of speech act theory. There are distinct speech acts within mathematics, and, as we intend to show, distinct illocutionary force indicators as well. Even mathematics in its most formalized version cannot do without some such indicators. This goes against a certain orthodoxy both in contemporary philosophy of mathematics and in speech act theory. As we will comment, the recognition of distinct illocutionary acts within logic and mathematics (...) and the incorporation of illocutionary force indicators in the formal language for both goes back to Frege’s conception of these topics. We are, therefore, going back to a Fregean perspective. This paper is part of a larger project of applying contemporary speech act theory to the scientific language of mathematics in order to uncover the varieties and regular combinations of illocutionary acts present in it. For reasons of space, we here concentrate only on assertive and declarative acts within mathematics, leaving the investigation of other kinds of acts for a future occasion. (shrink)
In this paper a dialogue game for critical discussion is developed. The dialogue game is a formalisation of the ideal discussion model that is central to the pragma-dialectical theory of argumentation. The formalisation is intended as a preparatory step to facilitate the development of computational tools to support the pragma-dialectical study of argumentation. An important dimension of the pragma-dialectical discussion model is the role played by speech acts. The central issue addressed in this paper is how the speech (...) act perspective can be accommodated in the formalisation as a dialogue game. The starting point is an existing ‘basic’ dialogue game for critical discussion, in which speech acts are not addressed. The speech act perspective is introduced into the dialogue game by changing the rules that govern the moves that can be made and the commitments that these result in, while the rules for the beginning, for the end, and for the structure of the dialogue game remain unchanged. The revision of the move rules is based on the distribution of speech acts in the pragma-dialectical discussion model. The revision of the commitment rules is based on the felicity conditions that are associated with those speech acts. (shrink)
The prevailing view among contemporary analytic philosophers seems to be that, as philosophers, we primarily issue assertions. Following certain suggestions from the work of Rudolf Carnap and Sally Haslanger, I argue that the non-assertoric speech act of stipulation plays a key role in philosophical inquiry. I give a detailed account of the pragmatic structure of stipulations and argue that they are best analyzed as generating a shared inferential entitlement for speaker and audience, a license to censure those who give (...) uptake to the stipulation but do not abide by this entitlement, and as justified on the basis of the speaker and audience's shared ends. In presenting this account, I develop a novel taxonomy for making sense of criticisms of speech act performances generally and clarify the notions of successful speech act performance and uptake. To demonstrate the fruitfulness of this view of stipulation for recasting and advancing philosophical disputes, I apply my account to two case studies – the first concerns Iris Marion Young's analysis of the concept of oppression and the second involves Saul Kripke's and Hilary Putnam's accounts of the concept of reference. (shrink)
Language is nothing but human subjects in as much as they speak, say and know. Language is something coming from the inside of the speaking subject manifest in the intentional meaningful purpose of the individual speaker. A language, on the contrary, is something coming from the outside, from the speech community, something offered to the speaking subject from the tradition in the technique of speaking. The speech act is the performance of an intuition by the subject, both individual (...) and social. (shrink)
This paper attempts to explain what a protest is by using the resources of speech-act theory. First, we distinguish the object, redress, and means of a protest. This provided a way to think of atomic acts of protest as having dual communicative aspects, viz., a negative evaluation of the object and a connected prescription of redress. Second, we use Austin’s notion of a felicity condition to further characterize the dual communicative aspects of protest. This allows us to distinguish protest (...) from some other speech acts which also involve a negative evaluation of some object and a connected prescription of redress. Finally, we turn to Kukla and Lance’s idea of a normative functionalist analysis of speech acts to advance the view that protests are a complex speech act constituted by dual input normative statuses and dual output normative statuses. (shrink)
Hanks develops a theory of propositions as speech-act types. Because speech acts play a role in the contents themselves, the view overturns Frege’s force/content distinction, and as such, faces the challenge of explaining how propositions embed under logical operators like negation. The attempt to solve this problem has lead Hanks and his recent commentators to adopt theoretically exotic resources, none of which, we argue, is ultimately successful. The problem is that although there are three different ways of negating (...) the sentence “Mary’s card is an ace”, current speech-act theories of propositions can only accommodate two of them. We distinguish between “It is false that Mary’s card is an ace”, “Mary’s card is a non-ace”, and “Mary’s card is not an ace” and show that Hanks and his commentators cannot explain content negation. We call this Hanks’ Negation Problem. The problem is significant because content negation is the negation required for logic. Fortunately, we think there is a natural way for Hanks to accommodate content negation as successive acts of predication. The view solves Hanks’ Negation Problem with only resources internal to Hanks’ own view. (shrink)
This paper presents a speech act analysis of presumption, using the framework of a dialogue in which two parties reason together. In the speech act of presumption, as opposed to that of assertion, the burden of proof resides not on the proponent to prove, but on the respondent to rebut. Some connections of this account with nonmonotonic reasoning and informal fallacies in argumentation are explored.
Speech acts have sometimes been considered as unembeddable, for principled reasons. In this paper, I argue that speech acts can be embedded under certain circumstances. In particular, I consider denegation and conjunction of speech acts, quantification into speech acts, conditionalization of speech acts, the embedding of speech acts by verbs like say and wonder, speechact-modifying adverbials like frankly, clauses commenting on speech acts, like certain uses of because-clauses, parentheticals, and appositive relative clauses. A (...) crucial distinction is made between speech acts and speech act potentials, linguistic objects that can be used to perform speech acts when applied in a specific communicative situation. I develop a semantic theory in which speech act potentials are captured as semantic functions that change a world-time index, reflecting the nature of speech acts as events that happen in the world. As index changers, speech act potentials become nearly regular semantic objects, with a proper semantic type on which other semantic objects can operate on. In this way, speech acts (or rather, speech-act potentials) become part of the recursive structure of language. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
In bilateral systems for classical logic, assertion and denial occur as primitive signs on formulas. Such systems lend themselves to an inferentialist story about how truth-conditional content of connectives can be determined by inference rules. In particular, for classical logic there is a bilateral proof system which has a property that Carnap in 1943 called categoricity. We show that categorical systems can be given for any finite many-valued logic using $n$-sided sequent calculus. These systems are understood as a further development (...) of bilateralism—call it multilateralism. The overarching idea is that multilateral proof systems can incorporate the logic of a variety of denial speech acts. So against Frege we say that denial is not the negation of assertion and, with Mark Twain, that denial is more than a river in Egypt. (shrink)
What is a speech act, and what makes it count as one kind of speech act rather than another? In the target article, Geurts considers two ways of answering these questions. His opponent is intentionalism—the view that performing a speech act is a matter of acting with a communicative intention, and that speech acts of different kinds involve intentions to affect hearers in different ways. Geurts offers several objections to intentionalism. Instead, he articulates and defends an (...) admirably clear and resolute version of the view that performing a speech act is a matter of undertaking a social commitment. Different kinds of speech acts, on his view, involve social commitments of different kinds. My aim is to respond to Geurts on behalf of intentionalism. I’ll argue that his objections aren’t all that worrying (Section 3), that Geurts’ view suffers from some quite serious problems that intentionalists don’t face (Section 4), and that intentionalists can give a principled account of the ways that speech acts give rise to commitments (Section 5). First I will spell out the two opposing views (Sections 1–2). (shrink)
There are certain illocutionary acts that, contrary to John Searle's speech act theory, cannot be correctly classified as assertives. Searle's sincerity and essential conditions on assertives require, plausibly, that we believe our assertions and that we are committed to their truth. Yet it is a commonly accepted scientific practice to propose and investigate an hypothesis without believing it or being at all committed to its truth. Searle's attempt to accommodate such conjectural acts by claiming that the degree of belief (...) and of commitment expressed by some assertives “may approach or even reach zero“ is unsuccessful, since it evacuates his thesis that these are substantive necessary conditions on assertives of any force. The illocutionary acts in question are central to scientific activity and so cannot be plausibly ignored by a theory of speech acts. The problem is not limited simply to Searle's theory, since even theories which depart markedly from Searle's in other respects are often committed to similar characterizations of assertion. (shrink)
We provide an overview of Searle's contributions to speech act theory and the ontology of social reality, focusing on his theory of constitutive rules. In early versions of this theory, Searle proposed that all such rules have the form 'X counts as Y in context C' formula – as for example when Barack Obama (X) counts as President of the United States (Y) in the context of US political affairs. Crucially, the X and the Y terms are here identical. (...) A problem arises for this theory for cases involving 'free-standing Y terms', as for example in the case of money in a computerized bank account. Here there is no physical X to which a status function might be attached. We conclude by arguing that Searle's response to this problem creates difficulties for his naturalistic framework. (shrink)
This book develops an alternative approach to sentence- and word-meaning, which I dub the speech-act theoretic approach, or STA. Instead of employing the syntactic and semantic forms of modern logic–principally, quantification theory–to construct semantic theories, STA employs speech-act structures. The structures it employs are those postulated by a novel theory of speech-acts. STA develops a compositional semantics in which surface grammar is integrated with semantic interpretation in a way not allowed by standard quantification-based theories. It provides a (...) pragmatic theory of truth, a treatment of logically complex discourse as expressive cognitive states, and a background metaphysics in which the world is a totality of logically simple states of affairs. The book also puts forward an account of how intentional states provide the simple, representational foundation for a superstructure of speech-act structures–a system of thoughts–that far outruns the expressive power of the intentional foundation. In short, it provides an account of cognitive foundations of a language and a naturalistic reduction of semantics through an expressive theory of semantic norms. (shrink)
Over the past decades, there has been an ongoing debate about whether education should aim at the cultivation of emotional wellbeing of self-esteeming personalities or whether it should prioritise literacy and the cognitive development of students. However, it might be the case that the two are not easily distinguished in educational contexts. In this paper I use J.L. Austin's original work on speech acts to emphasise the interconnection between the cognitive and emotional aspects of our utterances, and illustrate how (...) emotional force affects communication in the classroom. (shrink)
This volume presents new essays by leading figures in speech-act theory, the interdisciplinary study of things we do with words. They range over formal semantics and pragmatics, foundational issues about the nature of linguistic representation, and issues at the intersection of the philosophy of language, ethics, and political philosophy.
I draw upon speech act theory to understand the speech acts appropriate to the multiple aims of scientific practice and the role of nonepistemic values in evaluating speech acts made relative to those aims. First, I look at work that distinguishes explaining from describing within scientific practices. I then argue speech act theory provides a framework to make sense of how explaining, describing, and other acts have different felicity conditions. Finally, I argue that if explaining aims (...) to convey understanding to particular audiences rather than describe literally across all contexts, then evaluating explanatory acts directed to the public or policymakers involves asking nonepistemic questions. (shrink)
Foundations of Speech Act Theoryoffers a timely, thorough and, above all, compelling examination of the complexities of illocutionary acts, performatives, and their phenomenological basis. Savas Tsohatzidis has collected an impressive range of international scholars on the subject. Clearly demonstrating the relevance of speech act theory to semantic theory, the collection further interrogates the inability of pragmatic theories of illocution to properly locate such speech acts within the logic of phenomenology and intersubjectivity.
:In this paper, the influence of speech act theory and Grice’s the- ory of conversational implicature on the study of argumentation is discussed. First, the role that pragmatic insights play in van Eemeren and Grootendorst’s pragma-dialectical theory of argumentation and Jackson and Jacobs’ conver- sational approach to argumentation is described. Next, a number of examples of recent work by argumentation scholars is presented in which insights from speech act theory play a prominent role.
_Insensitive Semantics_ is an overview of and contribution to the debates about how to accommodate context sensitivity within a theory of human communication, investigating the effects of context on communicative interaction and, as a corollary, what a context of utterance is and what it is to be in one. Provides detailed and wide-ranging overviews of the central positions and arguments surrounding contextualism Addresses broad and varied aspects of the distinction between the semantic and non-semantic content of language Defends a distinctive (...) and explanatorily powerful combination of semantic minimalism and speech act pluralism Confronts core problems which not only run to the heart of philosophy of language and linguistics, but which arise in epistemology, metaphysics, and moral philosophy as well. (shrink)
Are there moral facts? According to moral nihilism, the answer is no. Some moral nihilists are moral error theorists, who think that moral judgements purport to refer to moral facts, but since there are no moral facts, moral judgements are uniformly false or untrue. Terence Cuneo has recently raised an original and potentially very serious objection to moral error theory. According to Cuneo’s ‘normative theory of speech’, normative facts, some of which are moral facts, are crucially involved in explanations (...) of how it is that we are able to perform illocutionary speech acts, such as asserting, promising, and commanding. Many versions of moral error theory reject not only moral facts, but also normative facts of the kind Cuneo takes to be among the prerequisites of our abilities to perform illocutionary speech acts. If Cuneo’s argument is successful, then, moral error theory has the unsettling implication that we do not speak, and possibly that we cannot speak. I shall argue, however, that the argument ultimately fails, chiefly because its core premise fails to establish that illocutionary speech acts are normative in the first place. (shrink)
There are two views of the essences of speech acts: according to one view, they are natural kinds; according to the other, they are what I call normative kinds—kinds in the (possibly non-reductive) definition of which some normative term occurs. In this article I show that speech acts can be normative but also natural kinds by deriving Williamson's account of assertion, on which it is an act individuated, and constitutively governed, by a norm (the knowledge rule), from a (...) consideration of the natural characteristics of normal cases of its performance. (shrink)