Felicity conditions  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

In J. L. Austin's formulation of speech act theory, a performative utterance is neither true nor false, but can instead be deemed "felicitous" or "infelicitous" according to a set of conditions whose interpretation differs depending on whether the utterance in question is a declaration ("I sentence you to death"), a request ("I ask that you stop doing that") or a warning ("I warn you not to jump off the roof").

Contents

Felicity conditions for declarations

  • Conventionality of procedure: the procedure (e.g. an oath) follows its conventional form
  • Appropriate participants and circumstances: the participants are able to perform a felicitous speech act under the circumstances (e.g. a judge can sentence a criminal in court, but not on the street)
  • Complete execution: the speaker completes the speech act without errors or interruptions

Felicity conditions for requests

  • Propositional content condition: the requested act is a future act of the hearer
  • Preparatory precondition: 1) the speaker believes the hearer can perform the requested act; 2) it is not obvious that the hearer would perform the requested act without being asked
  • Sincerity condition: the speaker genuinely wants the hearer to perform the requested act
  • Essential condition: the utterance counts as an attempt by the speaker to have the hearer do an act

Felicity conditions for warnings

  • Propositional content condition: it is a future event
  • Preparatory precondition: 1) the speaker believes the event will occur and be detrimental to the hearer; 2) the speaker believes that it is not obvious to the hearer that the event will occur
  • Sincerity condition: the speaker genuinely believes that the event will be detrimental to the hearer
  • Essential condition: the utterance counts as an attempt by the speaker to have the hearer recognize that a future event will be detrimental

See also

References




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Felicity conditions" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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