John Searle:

Several books

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Searle John: SPEECH ACTS (Cambridge Univ Press, 1969)

A theory of the conditions that preside to the genesis of speech acts. Searle classifies such acts in several categories, including "directive acts", "assertive acts", "permissive acts" and "prohibitive acts". Only assertive acts can be treated with classical logic.
Illocutionary acts, acts performed by a speaker when she utters a sentence with certain intentions (e.g., statements, questions, commands, promises), are the minimal units of human communication. An illocutionary act consists of an illocutionary force (e.g., statement, question, command, promise) and a propositional content. There is no major difference between locutionary acts and illocutionary acts.
The meaning of some sentences rests in the set of social conventions (analogous to Grice's conversational maxims) that made the speaker choose those sentences to achieve its goal.
The illocutionary force of sentences is what determines the semantics of language.

Searle John: EXPRESSION AND MEANING (Cambridge Univ Press, 1979)

Searle attempts to explain intentionality within his theory of speech acts. The causal relationship between a mental state and the world is due to a speech act or a perception. Language does not have true intentionality, it inherits it from the underlying mental states. Intentionality is a biological property.

Searle John: INTENTIONALITY (Cambridge University Press, 1983)

Searle grounds the notion of meaning of a speech act in a general theory of the mind and action.

Intentionality can only be relative to a contextual "network" of other intentional states and to a "backgroud" of preintentional stances. The background is necessary for the network to function. In other words, in order to perform a mental act, one must have a network of mental acts and they must be grounded in the real world. For example, I can "desire to see a film" only if I believe that the film exists and is showing. Thus the "network". And i can go and see the film only if I know how to drive the car and how to find the address. Thus the "background".

MIND, BRAINS AND SCIENCE (BBC Publications, 1984)

Searle is an outspoken critic of the functionalist view of the mind. After the invention of the computer a number of thinkers from various disciplines (Herbert Simon, Alan Newell, Noam Chomsky, Hilary Putnam, Jerry Fodor) have adopted a cognitive model based on the relationship between the hardware and the software of a computer. Thinking is reduced to the execution of an algorithm in the brain.
Searle objects to the "chinese room" thought experiment (originally published in 1980): a conscious person who, without knowing chinese, was told all the rules on how to manipulate chinese characters in order to put together sentences intelligible to chinese-speaking people would yet not "know" chinese, no matter how well that person performed. Programs are syntactical, minds have a semantics, syntax is not the same as semantics.
Searle's Chinese room argument can be summarized as follows: computer programs are syntactical; minds have a semantics; syntax is not by itself sufficient for semantics.


A formal presentation of the logical foundations of speech acts.
Illocutionary logic is the formal theory of illocutionary acts that attempts to formalize the logical properties of illocutionary forces. Illocutionary force is defined by seven properties: illocutionary point (what the point is of performing that type of illocutionary act), degree of strength of the point, mode of achievement (set of conditions under which the point has to be achieved), propositional content conditions, preparatory conditions,, sincerity conditions and degree of strength of sincerity conditions. Two illocutionary forces are identical if they have identical properties.
Notions such as illocutionary commitment (by performing an illocutionary act the speaker commits herself to another illocution) and illocutionary compatibility are introduced.
Five primitive illocutionary forces are recognized (assertive, commissive, directive, declarative, expressive) and a set of operations on the properties of a force are defined to obtain all other illocutionary forces from the primitive ones: adding conditions (whether propositional content, preparatory or sincerity), increasing or decreasing the degrees of strength, restricting the mode of achievement.
An axiomatical propositional illocutionary logic and its general laws (of transitivity, identity, foundation) are defined.


Basically, Searle discusses how minds create new meaning for objects. First comes collective intentionality: a group of rational agents share beliefs and intentions. Secondly, the agents treat some objects as if they had purposes (printed paper has the purpose of exchanging goods). Finally, constitutive rules create new reality.

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