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عدد الرسائل : 1500
الموقع : center d enfer
تاريخ التسجيل : 26/10/2009
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|Indirect speech acts|| |
The clear distinction between assertion and implicature, as Grice thought of it, is to some extent undermined by acknowledging indirect assertion as a kind of assertion proper. A standard example of an indirect speech act is given by
By means of uttering an interrogative sentence the speaker requests the addressee to pass the salt. The request is indirect. The question, literally concerning the addressee's ability, is direct. As defined by John Searle (1975b: 59–60), and also by Bach and Harnish (1979: 70), an indirect illocutionary act is subordinate to another, more primary act and depends on the success of the first. An alternative definition, given by Sadock (1974: 73), is that an act is indirect just if it has a different illocutionary force from the one standardly correlated with the sentence-type used.Examples of indirect assertions by means of questions and commands/requests are given by
- (16)Can you pass the salt?
Rhetorical questions also have the force of assertions:
- (17)a.May I tell you that, obviously, the square root of a quarter is a half?
- b.Let me tell you that, obviously, the square root of a quarter is a half! (Levinson 1983: 266)
Another candidate type is irony:
- (18)Is not Switzerland a peace-loving nation?
assuming the speaker does mean the negation of what is literally said. However, although in a sense the act is indirect, since the speaker asserts something different from what she would do on a normal, direct use of the sentence, and relies on the hearer to realize this, it is not an indirect assertion by either definition. It isn't on the first, since the primary act (the literal assertion) isn't even made, and it isn't on the second, since there is no discrepancy between force and sentence type.Irony does, however, qualify as indirect assertion on the definition given by Recanati (1987: 125). According to Recanati, an indirect speech act is a special kind of conversational implicature, where the speaker not only implicates some proposition [ltr]p[/ltr], but also intends to convey that [ltr]p[/ltr]. In the case of (19), there is an apparent flagrant violation of the Quality principle to say only what is true. On the assumption that the speaker is cooperative, together with background knowledge of her political awareness, the hearer can infer that she does not mean what she literally says, but rather the opposite, that is, that what she wants to communicate is the negation of what she says. For Recanati, the communicative intention is what brings this act under the category of assertion proper (see section 3.1).Although Searle's definition of indirect speech acts is different, Searle too thinks that they work by means of an inferential mechanism, including that of conventional implicature. The hearer is supposed to understand that the speaker cannot merely be performing the primary act, since that would violate conversational principles, and then again conclude by conversational reasoning what other act has been performed.The very idea of indirect speech acts is, however, controversial. It is not universally agreed that an ordinary utterance of (16) is indirect, since it has been denied (e.g., by Levinson 1983: 273–6) that a question has really been asked, over and above the request. Similarly, Levinson have questioned the idea of a standard correlation between force and sentence form, by which a request would count as indirect on Sadock's criterion.The notion of an indirect assertion is controversial, and in need of further clarification. What is common to all ideas is that indirect assertions are not explicit: what is expressed, or literally said, is not the same as what is asserted. One question is whether an utterance is an assertion proper that [ltr]p[/ltr] if that content is not exactly what is expressed, or whether it is an act of a related kind, perhaps an implicature. Another question is how far an utterance may deviate from explicitness and yet be counted as an assertion, proper or indirect. This question comes up in discussion of proposed counterexamples to certain theories (cf. sentence (21) in subsection 3.2).
- (19)Switzerland is known for its aggressive foreign policy.
3. Social characterMany accounts of assertion emphasize, one way or another, its social character. Some do it from a normative, and some from a descriptive, perspective. In this section and the next, we shall focus on the descriptive versions. These fall into two broad types: the communicative intentions type and what we shall here call the commitment type. According to the former, it is the intentions a speaker has with respect to the mind of the hearer that constitutes assertion, while according to the latter, assertion is constituted by the change of the social relation between speaker and addressee that the utterance brings about.By an utterance we shall here understand any physical item, event or state of affairs by means of which a speaker communicates. This may be an oral utterance (vocalizing), a physical gesture or sequence of gestures (as in sign languages), an inscription (analogue or digital), or the intentional creation or preservation of some state of affairs (e.g., a configuration of objects). A hearer is someone who observes the utterance and who can understand its communicative significance (exactly what this modal qualification amounts to will not be an issue here). We will need to distinguish between being an addressee, that is the intended receiver of an utterance, and being an actual hearer. There may be other hearers of the utterance than the addressee, some known by the speaker to be hearers (as when speaking to one member of a group of people) and perhaps some unknown (e.g., eaves-droppers). It may also be that the addressee is in fact not a hearer (i.e., does not in fact notice the utterance), only intended to be so by the speaker. We shall first be concerned with the intentions variety.
3.1 Communicative intentionsTypically, the speaker who makes an assertion has addressee-directed intentions in performing a speech act. The speaker may intend the hearer to come to believe something or other about the speaker, or about something else, or intend the hearer to come to desire or intend to do something. Such intentions can concern institutional changes, but need not. Intentions that are immediately concerned with communication itself, as opposed to ulterior goals, are calledcommunicative intentions.The idea of communicative intentions derives from Grice's (1957) article ‘Meaning’, where Grice defined what it is for a speaker to non-naturally mean something. Grice's idea can be set out as follows:
(cf. Strawson (1964: 28); here ‘that (i)’ is short for ‘that S intends [ltr]u[/ltr] to bring about a response Rin H’). That is, the speaker intends the hearer to react in a certain way because of recognizing that the speaker wants him to react in that way. Often, for instance in Grice's original examples, the intended reaction is one of coming to believe something, and that is a reaction that typically fits the speaker's intention or at least desire when making an assertion. Although Grice did not explicitly attempt to define assertion, the idea can be straightforwardly applied to provide one:
- اقتباس :
- S non-naturally means something by an utterance [ltr][size=18]u[/ltr] if, and only if, there is a hearer [ltr]H[/ltr] such that i) [ltr]S[/ltr] intends u to bring about a response [ltr]R[/ltr] in [ltr]H[/ltr], and ii) [ltr]S[/ltr] intends [ltr]H[/ltr] to recognize that (i), and iii) [ltr]S[/ltr] intends at least part of [ltr]H[/ltr]’s reason for [ltr]R[/ltr] to be that (i).[/size]
In the early to mid 1960s Austin's speech act theory and Grice's account of communicative intentions began to merge. The connection is discussed in Strawson 1964. Strawson inquired whether illocutionary force could be made overt by means of communicative intentions. He concluded that when it comes to highly conventionalized utterances, communicative intentions are largely irrelevant, but that on the other hand, convention does not play much role for ordinary illocutionary types. Strawson also pointed out a difficulty with Grice's analysis: it may be the case that all three conditions are fulfilled, but that the speaker intends the hearer to believe that they aren't, for instance by intending the hearer to believe that the speaker wants him to believe that [ltr]p[/ltr] for an entirely different reason.Such intentions to mislead came to be called sneaky intentions (Grice 1969), and they constituted a problem for speech act analyses based on communicative intentions. The idea was that genuine communication is essentially open: the speaker's communicative intentions are meant to be fully accessible to the hearer. Sneaky intentions violate this requirement of openness, and therefore apparently they must be ruled out one way or another. Strawson's own solution was to add a fourth clause about the speaker's intention that the hearer recognize the third intention. However, that solution only invited a sneaky intention one level up (cf. Schiffer 1972: 17–42).Another solution was to make the intention reflexive. This was proposed by Searle (1969), in the first full-blown analysis of illocutionary types made by appeal to communicative intentions. Searle combined this with an appeal to social institutions as created by rules. We return to these in the following subsection.Searle criticized Grice for requiring the speaker to intend perlocutionary effects, such as what the speaker shall come to do or believe, pointing out that such intentions aren't essential (1969: 46–7). Instead, according to Searle, the speaker intends to be understood, and also intends to achieve this by means of the hearer's recognition of this very intention itself. Moreover, if the intention is recognized, it is also fulfilled: ‘we achieve what we try to do by getting our audience to recognize what we try to do’ (Searle 1969: 47). This reflexive intention is formally spelled out as follows:
- (Gr-A)S asserts that p by the utterance u iff there is a hearer H such that
- i.S intends u to produce in H the belief that p
- ii.S intends H to recognize that i)
- iii.S intends H to believe that p at least partly for the reason that i)
The illocutionary effect IE is the effect of generating the state specified in the constitutive rule. In the case of assertion, the speaker intends that her utterance counts as an undertaking that prepresents an actual state of affairs, depending on the constitutive rule (see next subsection).Bach and Harnish follow Searle in appealing to reflexive communicative intentions. On their analysis (Bach & Harnish 1979: 42), assuming a speaker S and a hearer H,
- (Srl-I)S utters sentence T and means it (i.e., means literally what he says) = S utters T and
- a)S intends (i-1) the utterance U of T to produce in H the knowledge (recognition, awareness) that the states of affairs specified by (certain of) the rules of T obtain. (Call this the illocutionary effect, IE)
- b)S intends U to produce IE by means of the recognition of i-1
- c)S intends that i-1 will be recognized in virtue of (by means of) H's knowledge of (certain of) the rules governing (the elements of) T. (Searle 1969: 49–50)
According to Bach and Harnish's understanding, a speaker S expresses an attitude just in case S R-intends (reflexively intends) the hearer to take S's utterance as reason to think S has that attitude. They understand the reflexive nature of the intention pretty much like Searle. They say (1979: 15) that the intended effect of an act of communication is not just any effect produced by means of recognition of the intention to produce a certain effect, it is the recognition of that intention.These appeals to reflexive intentions were later criticized, in particular by Sperber and Wilson (1986: 256–7). Their point is that if an intention I has as sub-intentions both the intention J and the intention that the hearer recognize I, this will yield an infinitely long sequence: the intention that: J and the hearer recognize the intention that: J and the hearer recognize the intention that: Jand …). If this is an intention content at all, it is not humanly graspable.Another variant of the communicative intention analysis is Recanati's. Part of Recanati's solution to the sneaky intention problem, following Grice (1969), consists in simply demanding that sneaky intentions be absent. This is what it is for an intention to be open, or default-reflexive(Recanati 1987: 191–207). He also follows Sperber and Wilson's idea of making somethingmanifest, i.e., perceptible or inferable (1987: 120, 180; Sperber & Wilson 1986: 38). Putting the various ingredients together (including prototypicality conditions of assertion—Recanati 1987: 183), we get:
- (BH-A)S asserts that p iff S expresses
- i)the belief that p, and
- ii)the intention that H believe that p.
This is another complex analysis. The complexity of these accounts is itself a problem, since it assumed that ordinary speakers are in the habit of making assertions, and thereby to have the required intentions for doing it. But since it requires detailed analytic work to come up with the accounts, and there even are competing accounts, it is unlikely that ordinary speakers have the intentions required. If they do, they are clearly not aware of having them as agents usually are aware of their intentions. Postulating such intentions in ordinary speakers is clearly problematic.The difficulty is made more severe, because there are speakers with a demonstrated inability to understand belief and other cognitive attitudes. Some speakers with autism, who are clearly by everyday standards using language for making assertions, fail so-called false-belief tests. Thereby they reveal an inability to distinguish between a proposition being believed and being true, and hence (since they do distinguish between truth and falsity), reveal a lack of understanding of what it is to believe something. If you cannot understand what it is to believe something, you cannot intend someone to believe something either (cf. Glüer & Pagin 2003). All in all, the complexity and sophistication required of asserters by these communication-intentions accounts, gives a reason to suspect that they do not provide necessary conditions for making assertions.Normative and commitment accounts of assertion do not seem in general to suffer from these problems.
- (Re-A)To assert that p is to make an utterance u by which it is made manifest that the speaker has an open (default-reflexive) intention that
- (a)u gives the audience reason to believe that the speaker knows that p and wishes to share that knowledge with the audience, and
- (b)the audience recognize (a), and recognize it as open.