Logic and Language

Laura Caponetto (Cambridge): How to Undo Things with Words

Speaker: Laura Caponetto (Cambridge)
Title: How to Undo Things with Words
Time: 16:00 - 17:30
Location: SP107 F1.15 (ILLC Seminar Room)


Words are used to do a plethora of things: to promise, invite, press charges. So far, so good – nothing more than J.L. Austin's legacy to the philosophy of language. But words are also used to undo things: to take back promises, rescind invitations, drop charges. Speech act theorists have provided articulate frameworks for how to perform speech acts – but, quite surprisingly, have largely neglected the question as to how to retract speech acts. In the past three to five years, a number of scholars have pointed to this gap, and have taken initial steps to fill it (Caponetto 2018, Vermaire 2020, Kukla & Steinberg 2021, Bussière-Caraes 2022). This talk is a contribution towards this end. It expands upon and slightly revises my previous work on the topic, and is part of a broader project aimed to lay the foundations for a general pragmatics of undoing.