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Review : 'This small but tightly packed volume is easily the most substantial discussion of speech acts since John Austin's How to do things with words and one of the most important contributions to the philosophy of language in recent decades. Buy New Learn more about this copy. About AbeBooks.
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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title. Search for all books with this author and title. Customers who bought this item also bought. Stock Image. Published by Cambridge University Press New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2. In addition, it might be held that questions have answerhood as their conditions of satisfaction: A question hits its target just in case it finds an answer, typically in a speech act, performed by an addressee, such as an assertion that answers the question posed.
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Like the notion of direction of fit, however, the notion of conditions of satisfaction is too coarse-grained to enable us to make some valuable distinctions among speech acts. Just to use our earlier case again: An assertion and a conjecture that P have identical conditions of satisfaction, namely that P be the case. May we discern features distinguishing these two speech acts, in a way enabling us to make finer-grained distinctions among other speech acts as well?
I shall return to this question in Sections 6—7. In an attempt to systematize and deepen Austin's approach, Searle and Vanderveken distinguish between those illocutionary forces employed by speakers within a given linguistic community, and the set of all possible illocutionary forces. While a certain linguistic community may make no use of forces such as conjecturing or appointing, these two are among the set of all possible forces.
These authors appear to assume that while the set of possible forces may be infinite, it has a definite cardinality. Searle and Vanderveken go on to define illocutionary force in terms of seven features, claiming that every possible illocutionary force may be identified with a septuple of such values. The features are:.
It follows, according to this suggestion, that two illocutionary forces F 1 and F 2 are identical just in case they correspond to the same septuple. I cannot slow the expansion of the universe or convince you of the truth of a claim by saying that I am doing so.
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However, these two cases differ in that the latter, but not the former, is a characteristic aim of a speech act. One characteristic aim of assertion is the production of belief in an addressee, whereas there is no speech act one of whose characteristic aims is the slowing of the universe's expansion. A type of speech act can have a characteristic aim without each speech act of that type being issued with that aim: Speakers sometimes make assertions without aiming to produce belief in anyone, even themselves.
Instead, the view that a speech act-type has a characteristic aim is akin to the view that a biological trait has a function. The characteristic role of wings is to aid in flight even though some flightless creatures are winged. Austin called these characteristic aims of speech acts perlocutions , p. I can both urge and persuade you to shut the door, yet the former is an illocution while the latter is a perlocution.
How can we tell the difference? Cohen develops the idea of perlocutions as characteristic aims of speech acts. Perlocutions are characteristic aims of one or more illocution, but are not themselves illocutions. Nevertheless, one speech act can be performed by virtue of the performance of another one. For instance, my remark that you are standing on my foot is normally taken as, in addition, a demand that you move; my question whether you can pass the salt is normally taken as a request that you do so.
These are examples of so-called indirect speech acts Searle While indirect communication is ubiquitous, indirect speech acts are less common than might first appear. Consider an example of a type often used to illustrate indirect speech acts. However, must we conclude that she has done this by illocuting, for instance stating that she is too busy to join A for dinner?
This seems unlikely. After all, if B did not think that her studying would prevent her from joining A for dinner, she would be misleading in saying what she does, but not a liar; yet if in answering as she has, she is asserting that she is unable to join A for dinner, she would be lying if she took her study plans not to interfere with dinner plans. Analogous arguments can be constructed for other illocutions that B might be thought to be performing. Similarly, in asking whether you intend to quit smoking, I might be taken as well to be suggesting that you quit.
However, while the embattled smoker might indeed jump to this interpretation, we do well to consider what evidence would mandate it.
- John Langshaw Austin (1911—1960).
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After all, while I probably would not have asked whether you intended to quit smoking unless I hoped you would quit, I can evince such a hope without performing the speech act of suggesting. Saul provides an extensive study of lying and misleading in the context of implicature and speech act theory.
Whether, in addition to a given speech act, I am also performing an indirect speech act would seem to depend on my intentions. My question whether you can pass the salt is also a request that you do so only if I intend to be so understood. Likewise for the dinner and smoking cases. What is more, these intentions must be feasibly discernible on the part of one's audience.
Even if, in remarking on the fine weather, I intend as well to request that you pass the salt, I will not have issued a request unless I have made that intention manifest in some way. How might I do this? One way is by providing evidence justifying an inference to the best explanation. Perhaps the best explanation of my asking whether you can pass the salt is that I mean to be requesting that you do so, and perhaps the best explanation of my remarking that you are standing on my foot, particularly if I use a stentorian tone of voice, is that I mean to be demanding that you desist.
By contrast, it is doubtful that the best explanation of my asking whether you intend to quit smoking is that I intend to suggest that you do so. Another explanation at least as plausible is my hope, or expression of hope, that you do so. Bertolet develops a more skeptical position than that suggested here, arguing that any alleged case of an indirect speech act can be construed just as an indication, by means of contextual clues, of the speaker's intentional state—hope, desire, etc.
Postulation of a further speech act beyond what has been relatively explicitly performed is, he contends, explanatorily unmotivated. These considerations suggest that indirect speech acts, if they do occur at all, can be explained within the framework of conversational implicature—that process by which we mean more and on some occasions less than we say, but in a way not due exclusively to the conventional meanings of our words.
Conversational implicature, too, depends both upon communicative intentions and the availability of inference to the best explanation Grice, In fact, Searle's influential account of indirect speech acts is couched in terms of conversational implicature although he does not use this phrase.
The study of speech acts is in this respect intertwined with the study of conversations; we return to this theme in Section 6.
Speech Acts (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Just as content underdetermines force and force underdetermines content; so too even grammatical mood together with content underdetermine force. The same may be said of other grammatical moods. Apparently not: What puzzles Meredith is the following question: Who is on the phone? Mood together with content underdetermine force. On the other hand it is a plausible hypothesis that grammatical mood is one of the devices we use, together with contextual clues, intonation and the like to indicate the force with which we are expressing a content.
Understood in this weak way, it is unexceptionable to construe the interrogative mood as used for asking questions, the imperatival mood as used for issuing commands, and so on.
So understood, we might go on to ask how speakers indicate the force of their speech acts given that grammatical mood and content cannot be relied on alone to do so. One well known answer we may term force conventionalism. According to a strong version of this view, for every speech act that is performed, there is some convention that will have been invoked in order to make that speech act occur.
This convention transcends those imbuing words with their literal meaning. Austin seems to have held this view. Searle espouses a weaker form of force conventionalism than does Austin in leaving open the possibility that some speech acts can be performed without constitutive rules; Searle considers the case of a dog requesting to be let outside , p. Nevertheless Searle does contend that speech acts are characteristically performed by invoking constitutive rules. For Millikan, a natural convention is constituted by patterns that are reproduced by virtue of the weight of precedent.