Reply to John Searle's Conjunctive Conditions for Non-defective Promising


John Searle’s Speech Act Theory enumerates necessary and sufficient conditions for a non-defective act of promising in producing sincere promises. This paper seeks to demonstrate the conjunctive insufficiency of the foregoing conditions due to the inadequacy of the sincerity condition to guarantee predicated acts being fulfillable. Being the definitive condition which contains the psychological state distinct in promises as illocutionary acts, that is the expression of intention (S intends to A), I purport that not all sincere promises are non-defective. To motivate this, I shall explicate Searle’s conception of full blown explicit promises as his basic qualification for the application of the above conditions, and set the line as to how explicit is ‘explicit’? As a response to this insufficiency, I shall propose a condition, as part and parcel of the Propositional Content Clause, that makes up Searle’s felicity conditions for promises, which requires explicitness of the form: “A is fulfillable if A is explicit in form”. A is explicit if and only if 1) A is literal in form, where A can have either 1 basic or multiple meanings, and 2) The meaning of A, whether basic or multiple, with respect to its context is directly stated in the sentence uttered. I call this the Discharge Condition.

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