Questions: An essay in Daubertian phenomenology

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (3):353-384 (1987)
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Abstract

A number of logicians and philosophers have turned their attention in recent years to the problem of developing a logic of interrogatives. Their work has thrown a great deal of light on the formal properties of questions and question-sentences and has led also to interesting innovations in our understanding of the structures of performatives in general and, for example, in the theory of presuppositions. When, however, we examine the attempts of logicians such as Belnap or Åqvist to specify what, precisely, a question is, or what it is to ask or raise a question, then what we are offered is somewhat less illuminating. Two alternative reductionist accounts seem in particular to have gained most favor: questions are identified either as special sorts of statements, or as special sorts of requests. As we hope will become clear in what follows, neither of these accounts is even nearly adequate; and matters are not improved if questions are identified, by force majeure, as combinations of statements and requests

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Barry Smith
University at Buffalo

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