<philosophical terminology> a linguistic expression used to do something. When spoken by someone in an appropriate position: "I'm sorry." makes an apology; "Play ball!" begins a baseball game; and "I now declare you husband and wife." performs a marriage. Thus, performatives are important instances of what Austin later called illocutionary acts. Recommended Reading: J. L. Austin, How to Do Things With Words, ed. by Marina Sbisa and J. O. Urmson (Harvard, 1975) and John R. Searle, Speech Acts (Cambridge, 1970).
[A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names]
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