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How To Do Things With WordsThe William James Lectures delivered at Harvard University in 1955$
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J.L. Austin

Print publication date: 1975

Print ISBN-13: 9780198245537

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198245537.001.0001

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Lecture II

Lecture II

(p.12) Lecture II
How To Do Things With Words

J. L. Austin

Oxford University Press

Besides the uttering of the words of the so-called performative, a good many other things have as a general rule to be right and to go right if one is to be said to have happily brought off the action. This chapter looks at types of case in which something goes wrong and the act – marrying, betting, bequeathing, christening – is therefore at least to some extent a failure: the utterance is true but in general unhappy. And for this reason, the discussion refers to this as the doctrine of the things that can be and go wrong on the occasion of such utterances, the doctrine of the infelicities. It also points out that many of the ‘acts’ that concern the jurist include the utterance of performatives, or at any rate include the performance of some conventional procedures.

Keywords:   performatives, saying, philosophy, statement, infelicities, jurisprudence

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