A SCHOLARLY CONFUSION OF TONGUES, OR, IS PROMISING AN ILLOCUTIONARY ACT?
Technical terms, the author argued elsewhere, should not be re-defined without a profound reason; for such a re-definition furthers misunderstanding and is therefore undesirable. If his argument is on the right track, then we have reason to acknowledge the original definition of 'illocutionary acts' established by John L. Austin; any subsequent re-definition, unless it is specially justified somehow, must count as a terminological mistake. He uses this argument, in order to proceed against what appears to him a highly problematic terminological situation, namely, the present existence of a double-digit number of different definitions of the term 'illocutionary act'. Against his argument, he mets the objection that the co-existence of several different intensional definitions of 'illocutionary acts' eventually is not very problematic, given the alleged fact that the extension of the term is indisputable. In this paper, he argues that the objection fails, because its central premise is false: William P. Alston (2000), Bach & Harnish (1979) and John R. Searle (1969) have very different opinions as to whether, for instance, promising is an illocutionary act, even though promises are commonly supposed to be extremely obvious cases. Additionally, he considers the objection that the term 'illocutionary act' is indispensable as a means of referring to those various things it is used for; he discards this objection by demonstrating that, and how, at least the accounts under consideration in this paper could easily do without the term.
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