Access to the full content is only available to members of institutions that have purchased access. If you belong to such an institution, please log in or find out more about how to order.




DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-U027-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 23, 2024, from

Article Summary

There are certain things one can do just by saying what one is doing. This is possible if one uses a verb that names the very sort of act one is performing. Thus one can thank someone by saying ‘Thank you’, fire someone by saying ‘You’re fired’ and apologize by saying ‘I apologize’. These are examples of ‘explicit performative utterances’, statements in form but not in fact. Or so thought their discoverer, J.L. Austin, who contrasted them with ‘constatives’. Their distinctive self-referential character might suggest that their force requires special explanation, but it is arguable that performativity can be explained by the general theory of speech acts.

Citing this article:
Bach, Kent. Performatives, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-U027-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

Related Searches


Related Articles