“Speech Acts and Arguments”
The aim of this meeting is to discuss the current research strands of speech act theory – one of the most prominent philosophical traditions which strongly influenced the study of communication and argumentation in the 20th century. The foundations of speech act theory were laid by John R. Searle who is widely recognised for his contributions to the philosophy of language, philosophy of mind and social philosophy. Searle received his degrees from the University of Wisconsin (1949-52) and Oxford University (1952-59, as a Rhodes Scholar). For over 50 years he has been working at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is currently Slusser Professor of Philosophy. In his book Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language (Cambridge University Press, 1969), which is the most outstanding classical position in the field, Searle synthesized the ideas of such philosophers as Austin and Wittgenstein, and gave his original account of speech acts.
Speech act theory finds many interdisciplinary applications. Amongst the most important in formal linguistics is Segmented Discourse Representation Theory (SDRT) by Nicholas Asher (Toulouse) and Alex Lascarides (Edinburgh) which combines ideas from dynamic semantics, common-sense reasoning and speech act theory (Logics of Conversation, Cambridge University Press, 2003). SDRT proposes to treat speech acts as relations between utterances. As a result, it allows to formally model a wide range of communicative phenomena where semantics and pragmatics interact in complex ways, such as: nominal anaphora, lexical sense modulations in context, bridging inferences, presuppositions, metaphor, questions and responses, imperatives, non-sentential fragments, indirect speech acts, grounding, non-cooperative conversation.
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