Felicity conditions

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

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").

Felicity conditions for declarations[edit]

  • 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[edit]

  • 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[edit]

  • 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

References[edit]

See also[edit]