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An empirical investigation of intuitions about uptake

Fisher, S. A., Francis, K. B. and Townsend, L. (2023) An empirical investigation of intuitions about uptake. Inquiry. ISSN 1502-3923

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/0020174x.2023.2220359


Since Austin’s introduction of the locutionary-illocutionary-perlocutionary distinction, it has been a matter of debate within speech act theory whether illocutionary acts like promising, warning, refusing and telling require audience ‘uptake’ in order to be performed. Philosophers on different sides of this debate have tried to support their positions by appealing to hypothetical scenarios, designed to elicit intuitive judgements about the role of uptake. However, philosophers’ intuitions appeared to remain deadlocked, while laypeople’s intuitions have not yet been probed. To begin rectifying that, we ran two experiments probing lay intuitions about the implications of uptake failure. Overall, we found that participants’ responses were skewed towards agreement that speech acts were performed, despite the lack of uptake. There were, however, significant differences across the four different speech act types we investigated (with the highest levels of agreement found for refusing, followed by warning, then telling, and finally promising). We also obtained evidence of complex effects relating to the (high or low) stakes involved in the scenarios. While this study only represents an initial exploration of intuitions about uptake, our results form a basis for further research into their nature and significance, across a range of speech acts, scenarios, and experimental designs.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Philosophy
ID Code:112372
Uncontrolled Keywords:Health Policy, Philosophy
Publisher:Informa UK Limited


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