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indirect speech acts Sean Trott s Page

While indirect communication is ubiquitous, indirect speech acts areless common than might first appear. Consider an example of a typeoften used to illustrate indirect speech acts. asks ,‘Can you come to dinner with us tonight?’, and replies, ‘I have to study.’ makes it clear thatshe is too busy to join for dinner. However, must we concludethat she has done this by illocuting, for instance stating that she istoo busy to join for dinner? This seems unlikely. After all,if did not think that her studying would prevent her fromjoining for dinner, she would be misleading in saying whatshe does, but not a liar; yet if in answering as she has, she isasserting that she is unable to join for dinner, she would belying if she took her study plans not to interfere with dinnerplans. Analogous arguments can be constructed for other illocutionsthat might be thought to be performing. Similarly, in asking whetheryou intend to quit smoking, I might be taken as well to be suggestingthat you quit. However, while the embattled smoker might indeed jumpto this interpretation, we do well to consider what evidence wouldmandate it. After all, while I probably would not have asked whetheryou intended to quit smoking unless I hoped you would quit, I canevince such a hope without performing the speech act ofsuggesting. Saul (2012) provides an extensive study of lying andmisleading in the context of implicature and speech act theory.

Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language

ince the inception of the AI project, the use of computer analogies to try to describe, understand, and replicate mental processes has led to their widespread abuse. Typically, an exponent of AI will not just use a computer metaphor to describe the mind, but will also assert that such a description is a sufficient understanding of the mind — indeed, that mental processes can be understood entirely in computational terms. One of the most pervasive abuses has been the purely functional description of mental processes. In the black box view of programming, the internal processes that give rise to a behavior are irrelevant; only a full knowledge of the input-output behavior is necessary to completely understand a module. Because humans have “input” in the form of the senses, and “output” in the form of speech and actions, it has become an AI creed that a convincing mimicry of human input-output behavior amounts to actually achieving true human qualities in computers.

Searle's Speech Acts - An Analysis

Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language …

In their Foundations of Illocutionary Logic (1985), Searleand Vanderveken attempt a general treatment of logical relations amongspeech acts. They describe their central question in terms ofcommitment:

Students of speech acts contend, as we have seen, that the unit ofcommunicative significance is the Illocution rather than theProposition. This attitude prompts the question whether logic itselfmight be enriched by incorporating inferential relations among speechacts rather than just inferential relations among Propositions. Sinceparticulars cannot stand in inferential relations to one another, nosuch relations could obtain between individual speech acts. However,just as two event-types E1 and E2 (such as runningquickly and running) could be logically related to one another in thatit is not possible for one to occur without the other; so too speechact types S1 and S2 could beinferentially related to one another if it is not possible to performone without performing the other. A warning that the bull is about tocharge is also an assertion that the bull is about to charge but theconverse is not true. This is in spite of the fact that these twospeech acts have the same propositional content: That the bull isabout to charge. If, therefore, warning implies asserting but not viceversa, then that inferential relation is not to be caught within thenet of inferential relations among propositions.

These are examples of so-called indirect speech acts (Searle 1979)

John R. Searle: Speech Acts. An Essay in the Philosophy …

Speaker meaning, then, encompasses not just content but also force,and we may elucidate this in light of the normative structurecharacteristic of each speech act: When you overtly display acommitment characteristic of that speech act, you have performed thatspeech act. Is this a necessary condition as well? That depends onwhether I can perform a speech act without intending to do so—atopic for Section 9 below. For now, however, compare the view at whichwe have arrived with Searle's view that one performs a speech act whenothers become aware of one's intention to perform that act. What ismissing from Searle's characterization is the notion of overtness: Theagent in question must not only make her intention to undertake acertain commitment manifest; she must also intend that that veryintention be manifest. There is more to overtness than wearing one'sheart (or mind) on one's sleeve.

Students of so-called conversation analysis have contended preciselythis, remarking that many speech acts fall naturally intopairs.[] Forinstance, questions pair naturally with assertions when the latterpurport to be answers to those questions. Likewise, offers pairnaturally with acceptances or rejections, and it is easy to multiplyexamples. Searle, who favors studying speech acts in isolation, hasreplied to these considerations (Searle 1992). There he issues achallenge to students of conversation to provide an account ofconversations parallel to that of speech acts, arguing as well thatthe prospects for such an account are dim. One of his reasons is thatunlike speech acts conversations do not as such have a point orpurpose. Green 1999 rejoins that many conversations may indeed beconstrued in teleological terms. For instance, many conversations maybe construed as aimed at answering a question, even when that questionconcerns something as banal as the afternoon's weather or thelocation of the nearest subway station. Asher and Lascardes (2003)develop a systematic treatment of speech acts in their conversationalsetting that also responds to Searle's challenge. Additionally,Roberts (2004, 2012) develops a model of conversational kinematicsaccording to which conversations are invariably aimed at answeringwhat she terms a question under discussion (QUD). This viewis best appreciated within the framework of the “scorekeepingmodel” of conversation, to which we now turn.

Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language | …
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Searle speech acts an essay in the philosophy of …

Searle espouses a weaker form of force conventionalism than doesAustin in leaving open the possibility that some speech acts can beperformed without constitutive rules; Searle considers the case of adog requesting to be let outside (1969, p. 39). Nevertheless Searledoes contend that speech acts are characteristically performed byinvoking constitutive rules.

John searle speech acts an essay in the philosophy of …

These considerations suggest that indirect speech acts, if they dooccur at all, can be explained within the framework of conversationalimplicature–that process by which we mean more (and on someoccasions less) than we say, but in a way not due exclusively to theconventional meanings of our words. Conversational implicature, too,depends both upon communicative intentions and the availability ofinference to the best explanation (Grice, 1989). In fact,Searle's 1979 influential account of indirect speech acts iscouched in terms of conversational implicature (although he does notuse this phrase). The study of speech acts is in this respectintertwined with the study of conversations; we return to this themein Section 6.[]

Searle speech acts an essay in the philosophy of language pdf

Millikan (1998) espouses a parsimonious conception of conventions thatshe terms ‘natural conventions,’ and on the assumptionthat natural conventions are a type of convention, one would expectthis strategy to make it easier to defend the view that speech actsare inherently conventional. For Millikan, a naturalconvention is constituted by patterns that are reproduced byvirtue of the weight of precedent.[] A pattern is reproduced just incase it has a form that derives from a previous entity having, incertain respects, the same form, and in such a way that had theprevious form been different in those respects, the current form wouldbe different in those respects as well (1998, p. 163). Photocopyingis one form of reproduction meeting these criteria; the retinotopicmapping from patterns of stimulation on the retina to patterns ofstimulation in the visual cortex is evidently another. Millikan wouldnot treat retinotopic mapping as a type of convention, however, sinceit would not seem to be perpetuated by virtue of the weight ofprecedent. The point is difficult to discern, however, since in herdiscussion of the matter Millikan discusses the conditions under whicha pattern is taken to be conventional, rather than for it tobe conventional, writing

Speech Acts; An Essay in the Philosophy of Language. - …

n instructive example of this confusing conceptual gap can be found in the heated debate surrounding one of the most influential articles in the history of computer science. In a 1980 paper, the philosopher John R. Searle sketched out a thought experiment in which a man who speaks only English sits in a room with a batch of Chinese symbols and a set of instructions written in English. Interrogators outside of the room slip questions written in Chinese in through the door; the man inside understands no Chinese, but based solely on the English instructions and the shape of the Chinese characters, he constructs answers, which he then slips back out through the door. Even though the interrogators might believe that they are interacting with a person who understands Chinese, we know that the man inside the room does not understand Chinese. Searle’s scenario is, of course, designed to be analogous to how an operating AI program works, and is thus supposedly a disproof of the claim that a computer operating a similar program could be said to “understand” Chinese or any other language — or indeed, anything at all. Some defenders of strong AI have replied that understanding is taking place, if not by the man, then by the room as a whole.

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