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Speech and the Significance of Style (Departmental Seminar)

Joining the Seminar face-to-face:
Limited seats for face-to-face seminar. Registrations will be handled on a first come, first served basis.
Register by 29 Mar: https://cloud.itsc.cuhk.edu.hk/webform/view.php?id=13664957

Joining the Seminar online:
No registration is required.
Link to Meeting: https://cuhk.zoom.us/j/92004912463
Meeting ID: 920 0491 2463


The analytic philosophy of language is built around the idea that a speaker’s fundamental goal is to encode some information, a listener’s goal is to recover it, and a theory of language is successful if it can explain the exchange. Despite many successes, this conception obscures a point that is a central focus of research on language in other disciplines: how we speak is often at least as important as what we say.

My aim in this paper will be to show how deep this platitude goes. First, I will argue that the best way to understand the style of our speech is to see it as a tool we use not to send messages, but to perform actions. Making sense of these actions, however, requires viewing one other as agents motivated by moral, aesthetic, and social reasons than are not ordinarily countenanced in the philosophy of language. Drawing on some comparisons with Confucian philosophy, I will argue that these reasons end up permeating nearly any conversation we have, which means that deep moral questions are ever present.

Delivered in English.
All are welcome.