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Publication Details

Performatives In A Rationally Based Speech Act Theory

by Cohen, Philip R. and Levesque, Hector J.

Technical Note 486
Institution: AI Center, SRI International
Address: 333 Ravenswood Ave., Menlo Park, CA 94025
May 1990.

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Abstract

A crucially important adequacy test of any theory of speech acts is its ability to handle performatives. This paper provides a theory of performatives as a test case for our rationally based theory of illocutionary acts. We show why ``I request you...'' is a request, and ``I lie to you that p'' is self-defeating. The analysis supports and extends earlier work of theorists such as Bach and Harnish [1] and takes issue with recent claims by Searle [10] that such performative-as-declarative analyses are doomed to failure.

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