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Author: Maciej Witek

My aim in this paper is to develop a model of the coordinative function of language conventions and, next, use it to account for the normative aspect of illocutionary practice. After discussing the current state of the philosophical debate on the nature of speech acts, I present an interactional account of illocutionary practice (Witek ), which results from integrating Ruth G. Millikan’s (; ) biological model of language conventions within the framework of Austin’s () theory of speech acts. Next, I elaborate on Millikan’s idea that the proper function of illocutionary conventions is coordinative and put forth a hypothesis according to which conventional patterns of linguistic interaction have been selected for the roles they play in producing and maintaining mental coordination between interacting agents. Finally, I use the resulting model of coordination to develop a naturalistic account of the so-called sincerity norms. Focusing my analysis on assertions and directives, I argue that the normative character of sincerity rules can be accounted for in terms of Normal conditions for proper functioning of speech acts understood as cooperative intentional signs in Millikan’s () sense; I also discuss the possibility of providing a naturalistic account of the normative effects of illocutionary acts.

In: Normativity and Variety of Speech Actions
Author: Maciej Witek

The aim of this paper is twofold. First, the author examines Mitchell account of the expressive power and score-changing function of speech acts; second, he develops an alternative, though also evolutionist approach to explaining these two hallmarks of verbal interaction. After discussing the central tenets of Green’s model, the author draws two distinctions – between externalist and internalist aspects of veracity, and between perlocutionary and illocutionary credibility – and argues that they constitute a natural refinement of Green’s original conceptual framework. Finally, the author uses the refined framework to develop an alternative account of expressing thoughts with words. In particular, he argues that in theorising about expressing thoughts with words – as well as about using language to change context – we should adopt a Millikanian view on what can be called, following Green, acts of communication and an Austinian approach to speech or illocutionary acts.

In: Grazer Philosophische Studien
In: Normativity and Variety of Speech Actions
In: Normativity and Variety of Speech Actions
Normativity and Variety of Speech Actions embraces papers focused on the performative dimension of language. While all texts in the volume recognize speech primarily as a type of action, the collection is indicative of the multifaceted nature of J.L. Austin’s original reflection, which invited many varied research programmes. The problems addressed in the volume are discussed with reference to data culled from natural conversation, mediated political discourse, law, and literary language, and include normativity, e.g. types of norms operative in speech acts, speaker’s intentions and commitments, speaker-addressee coordination, but also speech actions in discursive practice, in literal and non-literal language, performance of irony, presupposition, and meaningful significant silence.

Contributors are: Brian Ball, Cristina Corredor, Anita Fetzer, Milada Hirschová, Dennis Kurzon, Marcin Matczak, Marina Sbisà, Iwona Witczak-Plisiecka, Maciej Witek, and Mateusz Włodarczyk.