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Speech Acts Without Propositions?

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This paper argues that understanding speech in terms of action requires dispensing with propositions. Austin's outline of speech act theory did not give any role to propositions, which were introduced into speech act theory later on, in order to cope with criticism leveled by Strawson and Searle at Austin's characterization of the locutionary act and his view of the truth/falsity assessment. The introduction of propositions had weakening effects on the claim that speech is action, foregrounding again the received picture of linguistic communication. I show that, in order to make sense of Austin's characterization of the locutionary act, propositions are not needed and give some suggestions as to how one could give an account of the truth/falsity assessment, compatible with the claim that speech is action, without resorting to propositions.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2006


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