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New Work on Speech Acts$
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Daniel Fogal, Daniel W. Harris, and Matt Moss

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198738831

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198738831.001.0001

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A Refinement and Defense of the Force/Content Distinction

A Refinement and Defense of the Force/Content Distinction

Chapter:
(p.99) 4 A Refinement and Defense of the Force/Content Distinction
Source:
New Work on Speech Acts
Author(s):

Mitchell S. Green

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198738831.003.0004

First lucidly formulated by Gottlob Frege, the distinction between illocutionary force and semantic content has been largely accepted by philosophers of language and linguists for much of the last century. In recent years it has come under attack. This essay aims to address the cogency of that challenge, by, first, clarifying the phenomena that the force/content distinction is designed to explain, and by providing a refinement of that distinction on which contents are not necessarily propositional, and on which force is an aspect of speakermeaning, but not (except in unusual cases) an aspect of what is said. Second, direct attacks offered by Hanks and by Barker and Popa-Wyatt are then assessed and shown to be unsuccessful against the force/content distinction thus refined. Third, an indirect challenge, which attempts to account for the relevant phenomena while abjuring any force/content distinction, is considered and shown to be untenable.

Keywords:   Frege, Austin, Grice, illocutionary force, emantic content, assertion, proposition, speaker meaning, conversational implicature, interrogatives

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