How to Do Things with Words

Recommended by Stephen Breyer, and 1 others. See all reviews

Ranked #28 in Rhetoric, Ranked #50 in Linguisticssee more rankings.

John L. Austin was one of the leading philosophers of the twentieth century. The William James Lectures presented Austin's conclusions in the field to which he directed his main efforts on a wide variety of philosophical problems. These talks became the classic How to Do Things with Words.

For this second edition, the editors have returned to Austin's original lecture notes, amending the printed text where it seemed necessary. Students will find the new text clearer, and, at the same time, more faithful to the actual lectures. An appendix contains literal transcriptions of a...

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Stephen Breyer JL Austin was an ordinary language philosopher. When I studied in Oxford, I went to one of his classes and I read his books. How to Do Things with Words teaches us a lot about how ordinary language works. It is useful to me as a judge, because it helps me avoid the traps that linguistic imprecision can set. If I had to pick a single thing that I draw from Austin’s work it would be that context matters. It enables us to understand, when someone makes a statement, what that statement refers to and what that person meant. Austin set a famous exam question: you bet that all swans are white or... (Source)

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