Protest and Speech Act Theory

In Rachel Katharine Sterken & Justin Khoo (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Social and Political Philosophy of Language. New York: Routledge. pp. 179-192 (2021)
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This paper attempts to explain what a protest is by using the resources of speech-act theory. First, we distinguish the object, redress, and means of a protest. This provided a way to think of atomic acts of protest as having dual communicative aspects, viz., a negative evaluation of the object and a connected prescription of redress. Second, we use Austin’s notion of a felicity condition to further characterize the dual communicative aspects of protest. This allows us to distinguish protest from some other speech acts which also involve a negative evaluation of some object and a connected prescription of redress. Finally, we turn to Kukla and Lance’s idea of a normative functionalist analysis of speech acts to advance the view that protests are a complex speech act constituted by dual input normative statuses and dual output normative statuses.

Author Profiles

Graham Hubbs
University of Idaho
Matthew Chrisman
University of Edinburgh


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