Utterances without Force

In: Grazer Philosophische Studien

In this paper the author attempts to reconcile two claims recently defended by Mitchell Green. The first is that illocutionary force is part of speaker meaning (Green 2018). The second is that illocutionary force is a product of cultural evolution (Green 2017). Consistent with the second claim, the author argues that some utterances – particularly those produced by infants and great apes – are produced with communicative intent, but without illocutionary force. These utterances lack the normative properties constitutive of force because their utterers have no grasp of the norms that operate on developed speech. If there can be utterances produced with communicative intent that lack force, we must consider how exactly force is a part of speaker meaning. In response the author argues that force is an inessential and acquired part of speaker meaning. As a result we need a conception of communicative intent more basic than illocutionary intent. He spells this out in terms of a ‘perlocutionary’ intention.

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