Negative Acts

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In this paper I try to use the conceptual framework of the speech act theory to clarify a few points regarding the philosophical debate about the existence of negative acts. For this, I start by looking at some of the most popular candidates to this title: failing, omitting, avoiding and refraining. In the second part of my paper I consider some examples of verbal actions and try to investigate how would the property of 'being negative' apply to them, concluding that we could only say about the locutionary contentent of a speech act that it is negative. Since the illocutionary force, which gives the kind of the verbal act performed, cannot be properly called 'negative', there cannot be any 'negative speech acts'. Next, I try to show how this can be applied to such cases. At the end of the paper I propose that an analysis of the situations in which our actions seem to oppose each other should replace the misleading problem of negative acts.
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Archival date: 2011-02-21
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