Performative utterance

performativeperformativesperformative utterancesperformative actperformative' and 'constative utterances
In the philosophy of language and speech acts theory, performative utterances are sentences which not only describe a given reality, but also change the social reality they are describing.wikipedia
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Speech act

speech actsspeech act theoryIndirect speech act
In the philosophy of language and speech acts theory, performative utterances are sentences which not only describe a given reality, but also change the social reality they are describing. After mentioning several examples of sentences which are not so used, and not truth-evaluable (among them nonsensical sentences, interrogatives, directives and "ethical" propositions), he introduces "performative" sentences or illocutionary act as another instance.
The contemporary use of the term goes back to J. L. Austin's development of performative utterances and his theory of locutionary, illocutionary, and perlocutionary acts.

Philosophy of language

languagephilosopher of languagetheory of reference
In the philosophy of language and speech acts theory, performative utterances are sentences which not only describe a given reality, but also change the social reality they are describing.
It can also be used to study linguistic transparency (or speaking in an accessible manner), as well as performative utterances and the various tasks that language can perform (called "speech acts").

J. L. Austin

John AustinAustinJohn L. Austin
In his 1955 William James lecture series, which were later published under the title How to Do Things with Words, J. L. Austin argued against a positivist philosophical claim that the utterances always "describe" or "constate" something and are thus always true or false.
After introducing several kinds of sentences which he asserts are neither true nor false, he turns in particular to one of these kinds of sentences, which he calls performative utterances or just "performatives".

Felicity conditions

felicity
If Peter utters the sentence without the intention to keep the promise, or if eventually he does not keep it, then although something is not in order with the utterance, the problem is not that the sentence is false: it is rather "unhappy", or "infelicitous", as Austin also says in his discussion of so-called felicity conditions.
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").

Performative writing

The above ideas have influenced performative writing; they are used as a justification for an attempt to create a new form of critical writing about performance (often about performance art).
It is heavily informed by critical theory, but arises ultimately from linguistic ideas around performative utterances.

Performative text

Performative text
In the 1950s the philosopher of language J. L. Austin introduced the term 'performative utterance' to make clear that 'to say something is to do something'.

Pragmatics

pragmaticpragmaticallylinguistic pragmatics
Pragmatics
J.L. Austin introduced the concept of the performative, contrasted in his writing with "constative" (i.e. descriptive) utterances.

Judith Butler

ButlerButler, JudithButlerian
Judith Butler
Although the repeated, stylized bodily acts establish the appearance of an essential, ontological "core" gender, Butler understands gender, along with sex and sexuality, to be performative.

Illocutionary act

illocutionaryillocutionary forceforce
After mentioning several examples of sentences which are not so used, and not truth-evaluable (among them nonsensical sentences, interrogatives, directives and "ethical" propositions), he introduces "performative" sentences or illocutionary act as another instance.
The notion of an illocutionary act is closely connected with Austin's doctrine of the so-called 'performative' and 'constative utterances': an utterance is "performative" if, and only if it is issued in the course of the "doing of an action" (1975, 5), by which, again, Austin means the performance of an illocutionary act (Austin 1975, 6 n2, 133).

Performative turn

performative project
Performative turn
In How to do things with words he introduced the concept of the 'performative utterance', opposing the prevalent principle that sentences are always statements that can be either true or false.

Sentence (linguistics)

sentencesentencesdeclarative sentence
In the philosophy of language and speech acts theory, performative utterances are sentences which not only describe a given reality, but also change the social reality they are describing. Eve Sedgwick argued that there are performative aspects to nearly all words, sentences, and phrases.

William James

JamesWilliamJames, William
In his 1955 William James lecture series, which were later published under the title How to Do Things with Words, J. L. Austin argued against a positivist philosophical claim that the utterances always "describe" or "constate" something and are thus always true or false.

Positivism

positivistpositivisticpositivists
In his 1955 William James lecture series, which were later published under the title How to Do Things with Words, J. L. Austin argued against a positivist philosophical claim that the utterances always "describe" or "constate" something and are thus always true or false.

Nonsense

nonsensicalbaloneydaft stuff
After mentioning several examples of sentences which are not so used, and not truth-evaluable (among them nonsensical sentences, interrogatives, directives and "ethical" propositions), he introduces "performative" sentences or illocutionary act as another instance.

Interrogative

interrogative sentenceinterrogative moodQuestions
After mentioning several examples of sentences which are not so used, and not truth-evaluable (among them nonsensical sentences, interrogatives, directives and "ethical" propositions), he introduces "performative" sentences or illocutionary act as another instance.

Utterance

utterancesexpressionexpressions
For example, when Paul says "I promise to do the dishes" in an appropriate context then he thereby does not just say something, and in particular he does not describe what he is doing; rather, in making the utterance he performs the promise; since promising is an illocutionary act, the utterance is thus a performative utterance.

Truth

truetheory of truthtruth theory
(1) Performative utterances are not true or false, that is, not truth-evaluable; instead when something is wrong with them then they are "unhappy", while if nothing is wrong they are "happy".

Truth value

truth-valuelogical valuetruth values
(1) Performative utterances are not true or false, that is, not truth-evaluable; instead when something is wrong with them then they are "unhappy", while if nothing is wrong they are "happy".

Divorce in Islam

talaqtriple talaqdivorce
"I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you" (Islamic: see: Talaq-i-Bid'ah)

John Searle

SearleJohn R. SearleSearle, John
John R. Searle argued in his 1989 article How Performatives Work that performatives are true/false just like constatives.

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

Sedgwick, Eve KosofskyEpistemology of the ClosetEve Sedgwick
Eve Sedgwick argued that there are performative aspects to nearly all words, sentences, and phrases.

Word

wordsverballexical
Eve Sedgwick argued that there are performative aspects to nearly all words, sentences, and phrases.

Phrase

phrasesphrasalword-group
Eve Sedgwick argued that there are performative aspects to nearly all words, sentences, and phrases.

Same-sex marriage

gay marriagemarriage equalitysame sex marriage
As Sedgwick observes, performative utterances can be revoked, either by the person who uttered them ("I take back my promise"), or by some other party not immediately involved, like the state (for example, gay marriage vows pre-legalisation).

Performance

performancesperformingperform
The above ideas have influenced performative writing; they are used as a justification for an attempt to create a new form of critical writing about performance (often about performance art).