Norms of Constatives

Acta Analytica 38 (3):517-536 (2023)
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According to the normative approach, speech acts are governed by certain norms. Interestingly, the same is true for classes of speech acts. This paper considers the normative treatment of constatives, consisting of such classes as assertives, predictives, suggestives, and more. The classical approach is to treat these classes of illocutions as species of constatives. Recently, however, Simion (Shifty Speech and Independent Thought: Epistemic Normativity in Context, Oxford University Press, 2021) has proposed that all constatives (i) are species of assertion, and (ii) are governed by the knowledge norm. I defend the classical treatment of constatives and show that Simion’s conclusion is untenable. No taxonomy of speech acts can accommodate such a view. More importantly, we can test whether a particular speech act is an assertion or not. I propose five tests of assertion, the passing of which is a necessary condition for being an assertion. Some constative speech acts fail these tests. Thus, contrary to Simion, not all constatives can be regarded as species of assertion.

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Grzegorz Gaszczyk
University of Warsaw


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