2010 | 6 | 1 | 145-170
Article title

Speech Acts, Criteria and Intentions

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What makes a speech act a speech act? Which are its necessary and sufficient conditions? I claim in this paper that we cannot find an answer to those questions in Austin's doctrine of the infelicities, since some infelicities take place in fully committing speech acts, whereas others prevent the utterance from being considered as a speech act at all. With this qualification in mind, I argue against the idea that intentions-considered as mental states accomplishing a causal role in the performance of the act-should be considered among the necessary conditions of speech acts. I would thus like to deny a merely ‘symptomatic’ account of intentions, according to which we could never make anything but fallible hypotheses about the effective occurrence of any speech act. I propose an alternative ‘criterial’ account of the role of intentions in speech acts theory, and analyse Austin's and Searle's approaches in the light of this Wittgensteinian concept. Whether we consider, with Austin, that speech acts ‘imply’ mental states or, with Searle, that they ‘express’ them, we could only make sense of this idea if we considered utterances as criteria for intentions, and not as alleged behavioural effects of hidden mental causes.
Physical description
  • University of Seville, Spain
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