Minds and Machines 32 (2):323-338 (2022)

Mitchell Green
University of Connecticut
Jan G. Michel
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf
This essay addresses the question whether artificial speakers can perform speech acts in the technical sense of that term common in the philosophy of language. We here argue that under certain conditions artificial speakers can perform speech acts so understood. After explaining some of the issues at stake in these questions, we elucidate a relatively uncontroversial way in which machines can communicate, namely through what we call verbal signaling. But verbal signaling is not sufficient for the performance of a speech act. To explain the difference, we elucidate the notion of a speech act developed by Austin in the mid-twentieth century and then discuss Strawson’s influential proposal for how that notion may be related to Grice’s conception of speaker meaning. We then refine Strawson’s synthesis in light of Armstrong’s reconceptualization of speaker meaning in terms of objectives rather than intentions. We next extend this conception of speech acts to the cases of recorded, proxy, and conditional speech acts. On this basis, we propose that a characteristic role for artificial speakers is as proxies in the performance of speech acts on behalf of their human creators. We also consider two objections to our position, and compare our approach with others: while other authors appeal to notions such as “quasi-assertion,” we offer a sharp characterization of what artificial speakers can do that does not impute intentions or similarly controversial powers to them. We conclude by raising doubts that our strategy can be applied to speech acts generally.
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DOI 10.1007/s11023-022-09589-8
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References found in this work BETA

Studies in the Way of Words.H. P. Grice - 1989 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Meaning.H. Paul Grice - 1957 - Philosophical Review 66 (3):377-388.
Context.Robert Stalnaker - 2014 - Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Fiction and Epistemic Value: State of the Art.Mitchell Green - 2022 - British Journal of Aesthetics 62 (2):273-289.

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