How to do things with (recorded) words

Claudia Bianchi Philosophical Studies, 167, 2, pp.485-495 - 2014

Philosophical StudiesThe aim of my paper is to evaluate which context determines the different speech acts performed with a recording. More precisely, my paper deals with the “metaphysical” or constitutive role of context – as opposed to its epistemic or evidential role: my aim is to determine which context is semantically relevant in order to fix the illocutionary force of a speech act, as distinct from the information the addressee uses to ascertain the semantically relevant context.
I will characterise two different perspectives on this issue, a Conventionalist Perspective and an Intentionalist Perspective. Drawing on the literature on indexicals in written texts and recorded messages , I will argue in favour of the Intentionalist Perspective, and claim that the relevant context is the one intended by the speaker. Bringing intentions into the picture, however, requires qualification; in particular, I will distinguish my Weak Intentionalist proposal from a Strong Intentionalist one. I will show that the Weak Intentionalist Perspective is flexible enough to deal with cases of delayed communication, but not so unrestricted as to yield counter-intuitive consequences.

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