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Pragmatics

3:2.155-170.
International
Pragmatics
Association

INTENTIONALIry, SPEECH ACTS AND COMMUNTCATIVE ACTION


A defenseof J. Habermas' & K.O. Apel's criticism
of Searle
JoachimLeilich

As the title of this paper perhaps already indicates,I want to confront two further
elaborations
of Searle'stheory of speechacts.One, by Searlehimself,presentsitself as
an attemptat foundingspeechact theory in the wider framework of a theory of mind,
and what I have in mind is of course Searle'sbook Intentionality(1953). The other
development
of speechact theory will be representedby two philosophers,who are
treatedin the contextof analyticphilosophyand linguisticpragmaticsas rather suspect
thinkers:JiirgenHabermasand Karl Otto Apel. The researchprogrammeof 'universal
pragmatics'(Habermas' term) which is closely related to Apel's 'transcendental
pragmatics'
obtained its final touch as part of Habermas' Theoryof Communicative
Actiort and relies very much on speech act theory. It is never easy to confront
philosophers
with very different backgroundsand sucha confrontationoften resultsin
somethinglike a steale mate situation,where each party accusesthe other one of
misrepresenting
its own viewsor perhapsevenpervertingthem. The discussionbetween
Searleon one side and Apel/Flabermason the other is an exampleof this.
The discussion
betweenthe 'Frankfurt-pragmatists'and
Searleis from the outset
burdenendwith a very fundamental disagreement,not about details, but about the
wholeframeworkin which the problemsare discussed.
This disagreementamountsto
the followingsituation:Searle - without any doubt - seesin his book Intentionalitya
continuationand further elaboration of his earlier book SpeechActs. Apel and
Habermason the other hand have the impression that Intentionatity is a rather
fundamental
revisionof Searle'searlier philosophyof languageand that the theory of
speech
acts cannotcoherentlybe incorporatedinto Searle'sintentionalisticphilosophy
of mind.They think that with Searle's'intentionalisticturn' the very spirit of the theory
of speechactsis lost and that it is better preservedin their own thought.
Apel's and Habermas'impression,that the theory of speechacts cannot be
appropriately
treated in the framework of Searle'sintentionalisticphilosophyof mind
is foundedon an interpretationof Searle'sviewswhich Searlehimself does not share.
Butthemisunderstandings
which Searlebelieveshe can discoverin the representation
of hisviewsby Apel and Habermasare very much supportedby his own formulations.
Therefore- in the first part of this paper - I will try to show how Searlehimself caused
'misunderstandings'
the
about which he showshimself so much amazed.In a second
partI turn to what could be called the 'Frankfurt interpretation'of speechact theory.

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Joachint Leitich

The third part tries to show what is the main complaintagainstSearleand finally I
want to reflect upon Searle'sdefenseagainstHabermas'and Apel's criticism.

1. Intentionality and speechacts


My summary of those parts of httentionalirywhich deal with the integrationof speech
act theory into an intentionalisticapproachto the philosophyof mind will perhaps
appear rather one-sidedor selective.But I want to show that Habermas'and Apel's
(alleged)misunderstanding
of Searleis causedby a numberof carelessformulationson
the part of Searle.It seemsto me - as I will try to showlater - that Searlein his replies
to Habermas and Apel defends a much weaker position than the one which
httentionalry suggested.
Searleusesthe structureof speechactsas a heuristicguide in order to elucidate
the structureof intentionalstates.With this procedure,however,he doesnot mean that
intentionalstatesare basicallylinguistic.His standpointwill rather be the opposite:
"Languageis derived from lntentionalityand not conversely"(1983:5). Searle wants
"to explain languagein terms of intentionality"and to show that there is a relation of
"logicaldependence"betweenintentionalityand language(1983:5).
The theoryclfspeechactsmakesa distinctionbetweenpropositionalcontentand
illocutionaryforce:"l assertthat p", "l order,that p", "I predict,that p", "l promise,that
p", and so on. We find a very similardistinctionif we look at intentionalstates,where
we can make a distinctionbetweena representative
contentand a psychcllogical
mode:
I believethat p; I f'earthat p; I hope that p; and so on. The latter,of course,is similar
to Brentano'swell-known thesis that intentionalstates are characterizedby their
'directedness':
Intentional statesmust be completedby a content. You can't hope
without hoping that......
A secondpoint of similarityconcernswhat Searle(relying on Anscombe) calls
'directionof
a
fit'. In usingassertivespeechactswe want to match an independently
existingworld. But with orders or promiseswe want to bring about changesin the
world so that the world matchesthe propositionalcontentof the speechact.Therefore
Searle differentiatesbetweena word-to-worlddirectionof fit (tor assertives)and a
world-to-word direction of fit (e.g. for directivesor commissives).
This distinction can
alsobe carriedover to intentionalstates.Beliefshavea mind-to-worlddirectionof fit,
but a wish, for example,hasa world-to-minddirectionof fit. In order for a wish (or an
order) to be fulfilled,somethinghas to happenin the world which bringsit about that
the wish or order is fulfilled.(An elaboratedversionof 'directionsof fit' can be found
i n S ear le( 1979) ) "
The third elementin comparingintentionalstateswith speechacts concernsa
connection between the two. Each speechact which has a propositionalcontent
expressesan intentionalstatewith the samecontent,and that intentionalstate is the
sincerityconditionof the speechact.A few exampleswill be sufficientto illustratethis
thesis.Someonewho assertsthat Hegel is obscuremust believethat Hegel is obscure
if his assertionis sincere.If I promiseto read Hegel I must have the intentionto read

Intentionality, speech acts and contmunicative action

I51

Hegelif my promiseis sincere.And if you ask someoneto read Hegel,you must want
him or hear to read l-Iegel.So we discoversomethinglike a parallelismbetween
illocutionaryroles and psychologicalmodes, a parallelismwhich is such that the
psychological
modesare the sincerityconditionsof the speechacts.
A fourth and last point of the comparisonleads into the center of Searle's
theoryof intentionality,becauseit statesan essentialconnectionbetweenthe concept
of intentionality
and the conceptof representation.
This point dealswith conditionsof
success
or conditionsof satisfaction,
and this notion is a kind of generalizationof the
notionof truth conditionsfor all typesof speechacts.The conditionsof successof an
orderare fulfilled,if the order is carriedout. The conditionsof successof a promise
consist
in carryingout the promisedaction,and the conditionsof success
or satisfaction
of an assertionare fulfilled if reality conformsto what the speakerasserted.In exactly
the samesenseintentionalstatescan be characterized
by conditionsof successtoo.
The conditionsof successof a wish are realized if what is wished happens, the
conditions
of satisfaction
of the intentionto do somethingare fultllled if one does it
anda belief'sconditionsof satisfaction
are fultilled if what you believeis the case.
Thesestructuralanalogies,which are only with a didacticpurposederived from
the theoryof speechacts,permit Searleto state what an intentionalstate is. Each
intentionalstate
contentin a psychological
hasa representative
mode.Intentionalstates
represent
in the samesenseas speechactsrepresent.My statementthat it is raining
is a representation
of a stateof affairs,and my belief that it is raining representsthe
samestateof afthirs.My order to someoneto leave the room representsa certain
actionof a certainpersonand so doesmy wish that a certainpersonleavethe rclom.
The notionof representation
needsperhapssome explication.To saythat a belief or
a wish,a statementor an ilrder is a representationis simply to say that it has a
propositionalcontent and a psychologicalmode, that its propositional content
determines
conditionsof satisfaction
and its psychological
mode determinesa direction
of fit. The term 'representation'is nothing more than an abbreviation of this
constellation
(cf. Searle19i13:12). If the propositionalcontent is specified,then the
conditions
of satistzrction
are alsoalreadyspecified.If you believe,that it is raining,it
is givenwith your belief,which conditionsmust obtain if your belief is to be satisfied.
If you wish that the cat lies on the mat, it is specifiedby the content of your wish
whichstatemustbe the casein order for your wish to be satisfied.So we could simply
saythat an intentionalstatewith a directionof fit is a representationof its conditions
of satisfaction.
Now that we are equippedwith Searle'skey terms,we can look at how Searle
proposes
to integratehis speechact theoryinto his theoryof intentionality.As already
indicated
in my brief exposition,
Searlewantsto defendthe thesisthat intentionalstates
aremorefundamentalthan speechactsand that there is a logicaldependencyin the
sensethat there can be intentionalstateswithout speechacts, but no speechacts
withoutintentionalstates.
Let us seehow Searlearguesfor this.
The productionof speechzrctsis connectedwith the production of physical

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Joachint Leitich

entities'suchas marks on paper or noises.Suchphysicalentitiesare in themselvesnot


intentional.How can we nevertheless
turn them into representations?
How can we "get
mere objects to represent"?(1983: viii). How "do we get from the physics to lhe
semantics"?(1983: 161)."How does the mind imposeInGntionalityon entitieswhich
are not intrinsicallyIntentional?"(1983: 27). This last formulation of the problem
already indicatesthe solution.Sincethe physicallanguagesignsare not intiinsically
intentional (that is, since they do not representby thernselvJs)
in order to become
intentional(to get them to represent),their intentionality(or aUiiityto represent)must
be derived from somethingelse.This somethingelse must of clurse te something
which is prelinguistic:the mind. I add this very explicitty- much more explicitlythai
Searleever does - becausehere lies the sourie of Ap.i'r and Habermas'belief that
Searledeliberatelywantsto make an anti-lingusitic
turn, seeinglanguageas something
completelyderivedtrom prelinguisticforms of intentionality.
Apet'i criticismof Searle
presupposestrom the beginningsuch an understandingof Searle'sthesis of the
dependencyof linguisticmeaningupon intentionalstates:
"ln what follows, I should like to tackle a general and fundamental
controversy which has
concerned philosophers of this century, the question of whether intentional consciousness
or
language has methorJologicalpriority in the determination of meaning. The
question can be
stated as follclws: What is more basic for the grounding of a rheory of meaningi
Thc meanings
of signs fixed by linguistic conventions,or the meaning which we giu" ro thesc signs
on the basis
of our prc-linguistic intentionality, as we impose phylical signs io convey th"m?' (Apel
1991:
32).

A consequenceof this reading,of course,would be that everythingwe can do with


languagewe could do just so without.This,aswill becomeclearfrom Searle'sresponse
(Searle 1991: 91, 97), is not Searle's intention, whereas Apel in his criticism
presupposesthat this is what Searlereally means.But the prop"r questionis not
so
much what Searle intends,but whether Searle can avoid thl consequences
Apel
ascribesto his position,if he posesthe problem the way he does.
That Apel is not so wrong in his suspicionseemsto follow from the further
elaborationof Searle'sviews.Searle'sanswerto the questionas to how we come from
physicsto semanticsis very simple:"The minclimpoies Intentionalityon entitiesthat
are not intrinsicallyIntentionalby intentionallycont-erring
the conclitions
of satistaction
of the expressedpsychological
state upon the external-of
fhysical entity" (19g3: 27).
One shtluld expectthat this sketchof a theory lungrugewould be.frrrther
elerborated
in Searle'schapter6 of "lntentionality"
which bearsthe title 'Mea'ing'. r,. *
if one readsthis chapter6 in the hope of findinga further elaborationof the general
strategywhich Searlesketchedin the first chapter- whichalreadycontainsa subihapter
on 'Meaning' from which my summory of Searle'supp.ou.h was taken - one is
disappointed.Searle'sdiscussion
is centeredaround on .io-ple which is deliberately
chosenin a very simple domain:
" (...) Let us take a case where a man performs a speech act by
performing some simple basic
action such as raising his arm. Suppose that you ancl I have arrangeclin acl-vance
that if I raise
my arm that act is to count as a signal that such ancl such is the case.Suppose, in
a military
context, I signal to you on one hill while I am stan<lingon another hill ihat the
enemy has

Intentionality, speechacts and conmtunicrttite action

159

retrcatcd,and by prearrangcment I signal this by raising my arm. How does it work'l" (19ft3:
167)

A partof thisstoryis surelythis:The raisingof the arm has in this context conditions
of success
with a mind-to-worlddirectionof fit. The conditionsof successare that the
enemyhasretreated.In the contextof this exampleSearleposesagain the question
how somethingwhich is not intrinsicallyintentional(here a body movement) can
represent,
and the answerfollowsthe line alreadysketchedThe conditionsof success
of thebeliefthat the enemyhasretreated,are intentionallyimposedupon the physical
symbol,here the movementof the arm. The raisingof the arm can only count as a
representation
of the stateof affairsthat the enemyhasretreated,becausethis action
wasperformedwith the intentionthat the conditionsof successof the raisingof the
arm shouldbe the sameas the conditionsof success
of the belief that the enemy has
retreated.
The essenceof Searle'sview therefore lies in the assertionthat we find
something
like a transferof conditionsof successfrom an intentionalmental state
(which has such conditions of succesintrinsically)to an physical entity (body
movements,
marks on paper or sounds)which do not have conditionsof success
intrinsically
(and theretorecould not representanythingif there was no mind). But as
an illustrationof the theclryof transf'erringconditionsof satisfactiontrom mental states
ontolinguistic
signs,the examplechosenby Searleseemsabsurd."ls not the real basic
question
of the constitutionof linguistricmeaningthrough the intentionalityof mind
simplydisplacedhere, since agreementas to the meaning of the signal already
presupposes
the existenceof linguisticmeaningconventions?"(Apel 199I: 33). A
charitable
readershouldhaverecognized
that Searledid not want to illustratethis point
withhisexample.Searle'sexampleillustratesof coursehow somethinglike a transfer
of conditions
of satisfaction
from one symbolto anothersymbolis possible.But what
it surelycannotdemonstrateis the priorityof mentalstateswith regardt<lspeechacts,
because
in thisexample,as Apel pointedout the, conditionsof success
are transterred
fromsomething
whichalreadyhasa conventional
linguisticmeaningto somethingwhich
doesnot yet havea meaning.
Searle,of course,is consciousof the shortcomings
of his examplewith regard
to thethesisof the logicaldependence
of speechactson mentalintentionalstates.How
with the words: "So
couldanyoneoverlookthis'l He explicitlyresumeshis discussion
farwe havedescribed
the structureof meaningintentionsfor peoplewho alreadyhave
(19fi3:176),and he grantsthat thisleavesopen the questionof the relation
a language"
between
the institutionof languageand prelinguistictorms of intentionality.But even
in conceding
this,Searlestronglysuggests
that he wantsto statethat the institutionof
language
canbe derivedfrom or analyzedin termsof prelinguisticintentionality.Along
thisline he asks,if there were beingswho were capableof havingintentionalstates
suchasbelief,desircand intentionsbut who did not have language,what more they
wouldrequirein order to be able to perform linguisticacts.(cf. 1983: 177).Searle's
answeris that thosebeings,in order to pertbrm illocutionaryacts,would need "some
means
fbr externalizing,
of
fbr maikingpubliclyrecognizable
to others,the expressions
th e i rInt ent ional
s t at e s (1
" 9 8 3 :1 7 8 ).

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Joachim Leilich

Though one might now expect a further elaboration of Searle's thesis (an
explanation of the passagefrom the prelinguisticto the linguistic carrying the
theoreticalburden),we are alreadyat the end of his chapteron meaning.What follows
is only a very sketchyexpositionwhich comprisesthe following steps:
"first the deliberateexpression
of Intentionalstatesfor the purposeof lettingothcrsknow that
one hasthem;second,the performance
of theseactsfor the achievement
of the extra-linguistic
aims which illocutionaryacts standardlyserve;and, third, the introductionof conventional
procedureswhich conventionalize
the illocutionarypoints that correspondto thc various
perlocutionary
aims"(1983:179).

2. Habermas on the 'double structure of speech'


'Frankfurt
I shall now give an outline of what could be called the
interpretation' of the
theory of speech acts. This expression could suggest that Apel's and Habermas'
interpretation is a rather idiosyncratic one, but actually Apel and Habermas only want
to state what they regard as the true spirit of speech act theory as it was developed by
Searle in Speech Acts..
'double
Habermas speaks about the performative-propositional
structure' of
speech acts (for example 1979a:41f0. This says nothing more than that we can split
up speech acts into a propositional content and an illocutionary force. But Habermas
and Apel want to emphasize that these two different components have completely
different functions. One of these components, the propositional content, is related to
'in
states of affairs
the world'. It can be true or false and it is possible to explicate its
meaning with the instruments of truth-conditional semantics. In speaking of ditfbrent
functions of the two components it is evident that the meaning of the performative rlr
illocutionary component should not be elucidated by the same strategies as
propositional content. It is not the point of the illocutionary component to state that
it is the case that I asserted, asked, ordererd or promised something. What the
illocutionary component expressesis what Habermas calls the validity claim which a
speaker raises vis-d-vis another subject. Speech acts cannot be reduced to a
representational function, they also have (tbllowing Btihler 1934) an appealing and an
expressive function. And these two aspects are clearly separated through the
performative-propositional double structure. With a speech act the speaker does not
only say something about something, he also makes evident what the cornrnLrnir'+ive
mode of his utterance is. From Habermas'point of view a speech act is somethrng likc
an otfer from a speaker to a hearer which invites the hearer to accept it or to refuse
it. The so-called performative (or illotutive) component has a dialogue-constitutive
function, contrary to the representational function of the propositional content.
If, for example, I promise you to pay back the money I owe to you by saying "l
hereby promise to pay back the money rrext week", the addressee can refuse this offer
on ditferent levels.
He can reject the making of the promise as such, for example by saying that the

Intentionality, speech acts and communicative action

16l

speakeris much too unreliablein such an affair..


The hearer can expressdoubts in relation to the sincertityof the speaker,for
exampleby responding"You said this only in order to calm me down, but actuallyyou
do not have the intention to fulfill your promise".
And the hearer can doubt the truth of the propositionalcontent,regardingthe
promiseas a forecastwhich will not come true.
These different possible ways of refusing a speech act reflect the three
fundamentalvalidity claims which play a role in communicativeinteraction: truth
(concerning
propositionalcontent),correctness
or legitimacy(concerningsomethinglike
the adequacyof the chosen illocutionary role) and the sincerity of the speaker.
Habermashimself seesa strong parallelismbetween this analysisand Karl Bilhlers
(1934)triadicschemeof the sign-function,where signshave a representationalfunction
(in Habermasthe validity claim of truth), an appealingfunction (Habermas' validity
claimcorrectness)
and an expressivefunction (Habermasvalidity claim sincerity).
Followingthis analysis,the illocutionaryforce of the speechact mainly has to
do with the possibilitiesof agreement between speaker and hearer. With the
illocutionarycomponentthe speakermakes clear to the hearer in which manner he
wantsto reachan agreementabout somethingwhich is specifiedin the propositional
content.
This analysisputs Habermasin oppositionto the meaningtheory of Paul Grice.
One of the centralnotions of Grice (1969)is the notion of an effect which a speaker
wantsto bring about in his audience.But as Habermasrightly insists,the purposesof
verbalcommunicationshould not be circumscribedas effects,becausethe successof
thespeechact dependson the agreementof the hearer,who is askedto acceptvalidity
claims.The purposeof communicationcan only be reachedin a cooperativemanner,
and therefore Habermas sees a strong difference between strategical forms of
communication
(such as, for example,reachingeffectsby ways of threats such as an
embargo)and communicativeaction which tries to reach agreementthrough the free
acceptance
of validity claims (cf. Habermas 1988a:66).

3. The asymmetryof representationand communication


Habermas'analysisseemsin its general form fruitful and rather appealing and one
wouldnot expect it would give rise to very seriousdisagreementsbetween him and
Searle.But still they emergedand it is not very difficult to discoverthe sourceof these
troubles.If we take Paul Grice as a point of reference,we could characterize the
thoughtof Searleand Habermasas movingawayfrom Grice in two oppositedirections.
FollowingGrice, the purposeof meaningis to reach an effect in an audienceby way
of the hearer'srecognizingthat the speakerhas the intention to reach this effect. As
Habermascorrectlypoints out, the conceptualizationof communicationin terms of
effectsis much too poor to capturethe socialdynamicsof communicativeactions.He
wantsto account for the cooperative aspects of linguistic communication and
interaction.From his point of view, Grice cannot adequatelyunderstand the social

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Joachint Leilich

dynamicsof communication.But Searlemovesin the oppositedirection.For a theory


of meaning, Grice is too much interestedin communication.Searlewants to give an
account of meaning without needingconceptswhich are related to communicationat
all. This becomes very clear in his paper Meaning, communication and representation
(Searle 1986).
This paper shows in a programmatic manner, in which direction Searle's
opinions developed after SpeechActs. Searle'sstarting point in this paper is Grice.
Searle had criticized Grice earlier becausehe identified meaning with an effort to
produce effects in the hearer, such as beliefsor actions.Searlepleaded that it would
be better to regard what we want to produce in the hearer not so much as
perlocutionary effects but rather as illocutionaryeffects,i.e. the fact that the hearer
understandswhat the speakersaid.This was a convincingmove, becauseotherwisewe
would be obliged to saythat someonewho did not carryout an order or did not believe
in a statement,did not even understandthe meaningof the speechacts.(Searle(1969),
chapter 2.6).Following Searle'ssummaryof his earlier criticismof Grice: "Grice argued
that meaning-intentionswere intentionsto produce a responsein a hearer". Against
this, Searleargued that "meaningintentionswere intentionsto produce understanding
in the hearer." (1986: 2II). But in Meaning, communicatiott,and representation,and
later in Intentionali4,,Searle offered the view that this account was still much too
'Gricean',
becauseit tried to analyzemeaningin terms of conceptswhich were related
to a hearer, such as understandingor communication."Like most speechact theorists
" Searle criticizeshimself, "I have analyzedmeaningin terms of communication.The
intentionsthat are the essenceof meaningare intentionsto produceeffectson hearers,
that is, they are intentions to communicate"(1986: 212). This approach is still too
similar to Grice's, becauseit still analyzesmeaning in terms of effects on an hearer
(that is, in communicativeterms), even if the effect is not a responsesuch as a belief
or action, but only the hearer'sunderstandingof the speaker'sintentions.
What Searle now wants is to separate representation clearly from
communication.An analysisof meaning can be given and should be given in terms
which do not rely on hearersor communication.The representationintention, which
is essentialfor meaning, is clearly disjoined from the communicationintention and
there even is somethinglike an asymmetry,becauseit is possibleto representwithout
an intention to communicate, but it is impossible to communicate without
representation.Notice that this asymmetrywould even remain if all representations
were actually intended to be communicated,becausecommunication presupposes
representationbut representationdoesnot presupposecommunication.
What we find at this stageof Searle'sintellectual developmentis somethinglike
a twofold reduction, a reduction in two steps.In a first phaseof explicatingmeaning,
all referencesto hearersor communicationare eliminated.One could call this the antipragmatic turn in Searle's speech act theory. The result is a purified notion of
representationwhich only dependson the notion of conditionsof successor satisfaction
and the notion of a direction of fit. The secondreductionstep startsfrom this purified
notion of representationand is intendedto show that "speakers'meaningshould be
entirely definable in terms of more primitive forms of Intentionality (...) in terms of

Intentionaliry, speech acts and contntunicativ,e action

163

formsof Intentionalitythat are not intrisicallylinguistic.(...) In its most general form


it amountsto the view that certain fundamentalsemanticnotions such as meaningare
analyzable
in terms of even more fundamentalpsychologicalnotions such as belief,
desireand intention"(Searle 1983:160f).It is this secondmove which leads to Apel's
opinionthat Searleintendednot only an anti-pragmaticturn but even an anti-linguistic
one.This opinionis sharedby Habermas,who offered the view, that Searle'sexamples
where not only intended "to make (...)
in Meaning,communication,and representation
the trivial claim that we can bring before our eyesa linguisticallyrepresentablestate
of affairsindependently
of actualcommunicativeintentions",but that Searlehad chosen
his examples"to support the less trivial claim that we can visualizea certain state of
wether for the purpose of representation
affairsilt mente without usingany Tanguage
(Habermas1991:20).
or communication"
Before I come to Apel's and Habermas' criticism, I want to fill a gap in my
accountof Searle,and that is the answerto the question"What does communication
Searle'sansweris of a baff'lingsimplicity:A speaker'sintention
addto representation?"
to communicateis the intention that the hearer should recognize the speaker's
intention (see Searle 1986:2l5f; 1983:170f).Therefore there must be
representation
primarilya representationintention before there can be a communicationintention,
andin thissensecommunicationtotally dependson representation.

4. Habermas'and Apel's criticism


Nowit is rathereasyto see in which directiona conflict must inevitablya rise between
the Frankfurtpragmatistsand Searle.The thesis of the performative-propositional
doublestructureof the speechact differentiatesbetweenthe communicativefunction
of the expressedillocutionary mode and the representational function of the
propositional
content.Now Habermas'and Apel's criticalquestionis: if you want to
clearthenotionof meaningfrom allcommunicativeconnotations,how can you still give
an accountof illocutionaryforce? If it is the very meaning of illocutionary force to
determinea certain communicativemode by way of making explicit which validity
claimsare raisedto be acceptedor refusedby an audience,if this is the point of the
force-contentdistinction, how could you cover those essentially communicative
functionsof the speech act if you explicitly refuse, as Searle does, an account of
meaningwhich is based on communicationalconcepts?How can you, for example,
graspthe meaningof an order, if you are not allowedto speakabout communication?
Therefore,it is Apel's and Habermas'strategyto show that illocutionaryforces
cannotbe adequatelyexplainedin the frameworkwhich Searlenow permits himself to
use.This is the reasonwhy both Habermasand Apel think that the achievementsof
speech
act theoryare destroyedby its foremostproponent,Searlehimself.One would
expectSearleto react clearly to this complaint.But insteadSearleoffers a repetition
of his point of view that representationand communicationmust be separated.He
proposes
somekind of divisionof labor betweenHabermasand himself. Habermas asSearleseesit - is not so much dealingwith a theory of meaning,but with something

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Joachim Leitich

which in the logical developmentmust come later than meaning.Searle'soffer of a


division of labor amounts to the following:the featureswhich Habermasmentions are
"simply featuresof conversationsas opposedto featuresof individualspeechacts.It is
characteristicof a normal conversationthat each participanttakes turns of being now
a speakei, now a hearer, and the overall aim of conversationis to reach agreement,to
reach what he (Habermas) calls a 'mutual consensuswith respect to a (potentially
questionable)matter'." (Searle I99I:90) "But notice",Searlegoeson, "that there is no
inconsistencybetween saying on the one hand that each individual speech act is
designedto communicatean Intentionalcontentfrom speakerto hearer (...) and on the
other sayingthat the overall aim of the conversationis to achieveconsensus."(1991:
90) But "in order for there to be intersubjectiveconsensusin conversationthere have
to be lntentionalcontentsthat are communicatedin the first place".(1991:90 0.
At first sight this might seem reasonable,and there is a way of interpreting
Searle with which Habermas could agree.Namely, you cannot have communication
without propositional contents,and that is what Habermas himself acknowledgedin
speakingof the illocutionary-propositional
doublestructure.For Habermasdistinguishes
with his thesisof the double structure"(1) the levelof intersubjectivity
on which speaker
and hearer,through illocutionaryacts,establishthe relationsthat permit them to come
to an understandingwith one another, and (2) the level of propositional content which
is communicated"(Habermas 1979a:42). And in this sensethere is an agreement
between Habermas and Searle,becauseHabermashimself would have to agree that
the question of 'coming to an understanding'could not arise if there would not be
something- the propositionalcontent - about which speakerand hearer want to come
to an understandingor to reach a consensus.
You cannot havejust illocutionaryforces
with no further propositional content at all. But as a reaction against Habermas'
complaintsthis does not do the job. Searle,in summarizinghis view that meaningmust
claim priority over conversation,givesthis example:"If for exampleI say,'Bush is doing
a good job', before you can agree or disagreeyou have to understandme. I have to
succeedin communicatinga meaningin the performanceof my speechact before the
questionof consensus
can arise."(SearleI99I:92)
lt is not at all clear what Searlewants to saywith this allegedcounterexample.
If this utterance has an illocutionaryforce, and without any doubt Searle must agree
with this, then the utterance "Bush is doing a good job" does not only mention Bush
and does not only say somethingabout him, but it does more. It simultaneouslymakes
it clear that this utteranceis intended as an assertionfor which the speakerthinks he
has good reasons.The utteranceembodiesvalidityclaimswhich invite a reactionfrom
the audience.("You can't mean this,you are only joking. " - "Look what happenedin
Los Angeles" - "Did you ever read the Wall Street Journal?") Of course,before the
hearer can accept or refute the speaker'sclaims, he must know the propositional
content. But propositionalcontent is not enoughto specif a speechact, becausethe
speech act must convey information concerning its communicative mood or its
illocutionary force.
What remainsunclearin Searle'sreactionis the answerto Habermas'question
as to the manner in which the illocutionary force is to be analyzed if one clearly

IntentionaliQ, speechacts and contntunicative action

165

separates
meaningfrom communication.If Searlewanted to answerthis question,he
would have two possiblestrategies,but both would bring him in an uncomfortable
position.Either he could say:meaningonly has to do with propositionalcontent. But
thenHabermasis right in sayingthat Searle'snew way of thinking no longer contains
thetrue spiritof speechact theory,which revolvesaroundillocutionaryforce. Or Searle
couuldsay:my explicationof meaningalsowantsto coverillocutionaryforces.But then
it remains mysterioushow Searle wants to separate meaning intentions from
intentions,becauseillocutionaryforce is preciselythe expressionof
communication
communication
intentions.Not the communicationintention about which Searle is
speaking- the intention to communicate a propositional content - but the
intentionin the senseof Habermas'double structure,where on the
communication
levelof intersubjectivity
communicativemodes are constitutedthrough the choice of
illocutionaryforces.Searlecould of coursesay that he takes illocutionary force into
consideration.
But the only theoreticalinstrumentshis analysispermits are directions
of fit. And directionsof fit are, as Searle himself admits (1991: 97), far too weak to
explicatethe differencesbetweendifferent illocutionaryforces.
Searledoes not only offer Habermas a division of labor - something like a
fruitful and peacefulcoexistence- between a theory of representation(Searle'sjob)
whichis presupposed
by a theoryof conversation(Habermas'job), but he finally makes
a counterattackaccusing Habermas of entertaining deeply t-lawed views. This
counterattack
is centeredaround the unhappy George Bush examplewhich I already
It runsas follows:"Habermasthinksthat the existenceof validityclaimsis
mentioned.
nota consequence
of the analysisof certain sorts of speechacts,rather he thinks that
thevalidityclaimsareconstitutiveof all speechacts"(Searle1991:91). This is a correct
and we should rather ask why Searlecannot agree with this. Searle
characterization
at all that there are validityclaimsinvolvedin the speechact.But he
doesnot disagree
triesto formulatethe relation betweenvalidity claimsand speechactsin a rather queer
of
way."Thatthereare validityclaims",Searlesays,"seemsto me a strict consequence
my analysis.However, what I do claim is that it is philosophically back to front to
that the validiryclrtimsprovide a basisfor tlrc uttderstandingof the phenomena
suppose
of speechacts,ratherit is the theoryof speechactstlnt has to explainthe validiryclaims".
(Searle1991:93t). It seemsto me an unfruitful approachto state the problem in terms
of the questionas to whether validity claims are a consequencederived from speech
actsor somethingwhich is constitutiveof speechacts.And I think Searle could agree
with this,becausehe unintentionallyrefuteshis own attack in explainingwhat validity
of speechacts
claimsreallyare.In an etfort to explainvalidityclaimsas a consequence
the following example.In a
(ratherthan constitutiveof speechacts),Searlediscusses
in the contextof the budgetof an Universitydepartmentsomeonestates:
discussion
"TheUniversitybudgetwill not permit us to expandthe library in the next year."Searle
admitsthat in this statementthere are severalvalidityclaimswhich can be revealedby
the followingchallenges:
1
2

What you sayis false.There is plenty of moneyin the Universitybudget.


You do not actually believe what you are saying.You have some strategic

t66

JoachimLeilich

motive to deceiveus.
You do not really have enough evidenceto say that. The figures about next
year's budget are not yet available.

Searle correctly notices that "the relevanceof such complaintsis already determined
by the internal featuresof the speechact in question.And the three validity claims in
question are those of truth, sincerity and legitimacy,in this case having sufficient
evidencefor one'sclaims."(1991:93).Without any doubt,Habermaswould agreewith
this picture,which is intendedto showwhere there is agreementbetweenHabermas
and Searle. Searle remarks that Habermas'validityclaims derive exactlyfrom his
Acts, namelythe typesof rules which
conditionson illocutionaryactsas statedin Speech
specifya certain speechact (1991:93). Habermas,to be sure,never tried to conceal
that his validity claimswere derivedfrom Searlesanalysisof different types of rules for
illocutionary forces. When Searle himself statessuch conditionson speech acts, for
example the essentialcondition,the sinceritycondition and the preparatorycondition,
he is not statingsomethingfrom which in a later phaseof analysisvalidity claimscould
be derived,but he is statingthe very validity claimsthemselves.There is no difference
(exceptfor a terminologicalone) betweenSearle'sconstitutiverules in SpeechActs and
by Habermasand Apel are
Habermas'validityclaims."The validityclaimsdiscussed
just thesevariousconditionsgeneralized",
Searleadmitshimself(1991:98). But these
rules are, as Searlehimself would not doubt, constitutive.But how then can Searle
complaint that Habermas falselythinks that validity claims are constitutiveof speech
acts,if validity claims are nothing more than a generalizationof types of constitutive
by the
rules? The illocutionarytorce of a speechact can completelybe characterized
validity claimswhich someonemakesin performingit. Searleis confusedin thinking
that validity claimsare somethingwhich shouldcome into the debatelater, after speech
acts are constituted by sets of constitutive rules. Nevertheless,Searle's attack is
understandable.Habermas'terminologyexplicitlyfocuseson the socialcommunicative
dimension which is embodied in illocutionary force. Recognizing this essential
communication-constituting
forceof the illocutionarycomponentwouldmake it difticult
for Searle to maintain his rather sharp distinctionbetween communicationand
meaning.Therefore he must in someway try to dissociateHabermas'intentionsfrom
his own. But the result will be inevitably that the character of illocutionary force
remainsvery much underexposed,to the extentthat we can very well understand that
the Frankfurt pragmatistshave the impressionthat Searle - though unintentionallysaid goodbyeto his earlier ideas.
Searle defends his thesis of the priority of representation-intentionsover
communication-intentions
on the level of propositionalcontent. And on this level
Searle'sproposalis clear and plausible.But by way of illustratinghis view on the level
of
of propositionalcontent,he manifeststhat he did not even recognizethe essentials
Habermas'criticism.Habermasdealswith the communicative
functionof illocutionary
forces (which he explicatesin terms of validityclaims),but in his responseto Habermas
Searlekept silent about illocutionaryforces.How is it possiblethat someonewho wants
to ground speechact theory in a theory of mind only speaksabout representationalor
propositionalcontentsbut never givesan explicitanalysisof illocutionaryforces?

Intentionality, speech acts and communicative action

167

I startedwith a sketch of Searle'sIntentionalityand its relation to speech act


theory.But in my critical discussionI mainly drew upon the problemswhich emerged
from Searle'sstrategy of making a sharp distinction between representation and
In Searle'stexts ther is evidence- as I already mentioned - that his
communication.
programmeis developedin two phases:the first consistingin his attempt to
research
separate
meaningintentionsclearlyfrom communicationintentions.Here my complaint
is,with Habermasand Apel, that we cannot carrythis strategyover to the analysisof
force.The secondphaseconsistsin Searle'sattempt to give an analysisof
illocutionary
thispurifiednotion of representationin terms of conceptswhich are not semanticor
but which are completelyderived from an intentionalisticpsychology.
linguistic,
Habermas'criticism concentratedon Searle'sattempt to reduce the proper
of meaningto the understandingof what it meansto represent.Apel is
understanding
with the allegedreducibilityof speechact theory to an intentionalistic
moreconcerned
theoryof mind. But of the already mentionedargumentscan be carried over to this
secondstep.If Searle'stheory of representationcannot give a sufficient account of
illocutionaryforce, then a fortioi an analysisof this notion of representation in
terms cannot do it either. Therefore we find in Apel's criticism many
intentionalistic
argumentswhich were already used by Habermas against Searle's first step.
we are left with the question as to what Searle's intentionalistic
Nevertheless
reducibilitythesis amounts to, and I still have to explain my impression that in
Searledefendeda much strongerthesisthan the one which he maintains
Intentionality
with Apel.
in his criticaldiscussion
FollowingApel, the main thesisof Searle'sIntentionalirywas that the meaning
of a speechact can be explicated by the conditions of successwhich the mind
transfersto the physicalsignstogetherwith the direction of fit. No doubt
intentionally
expositionin Intentionalitystronglysuggestssuch a reading.And againstthis
Searle's
strategyApel uses the same argumentswe already know from our discussionof
namelythat this conceptualinventoryis much too weak to accountfor the
Habermas,
diversityof speechacts.Using only conditionsof satisfactionand directionsof fit, an
orderto do p, a demand to do p, a request and even a directive threat all would
amountto the samething: the expressionof the speaker'swish that p should happen
An order requires
throughan actionby the hearer.But of coursethere are dif-tbrences.
someform of institutionalizedauthorization.A requestmust be worthy of fulfillment,
a demandlegitimate and in the case of a threat the hearer must fear negative
for himself.
consequences
Apel's objectionamounts simply to the idea that the illocutionary force of a
actcannotbe explainedin non-linguisticterms.And this argumentationstrategy
speech
to me quite reasonable,becauseSearlestronglysuggestedthat he just wanted
seems
to defendthe thesisthat all speechacts can be explainedin non-linguisticterms. He
statedthat he wanted to show that "speaker'smeaning should be entirely
explicitly
in terms of more primitive forms of Intentionality.(..) *e define speaker's
definable
in termsof forms of intentionalitythat are not intrinsicallylinguistic."(Searle
meaning
1983:160)Therefore,Searlecontinues,"the philosophyof languageis a branch of the
philosophy
of mind. In its most general form it amounts to the view that certain

168

Joachint Leilich

fundamentalsemanticnotionssuchas meaningare analyzablein terms of even more


fundamentalpsychological
notions,suchas belief,desire,and intention."(1983: 160f)
It must have seemed to many readers that tor example the story of conditions of
satisfaction which are conferred (1983: 27) or transferred (1983: 167) from a
stateto an externalphysicalentity,committedSearleto the
(prelinguistic)psychological
view that (prelinguistic)intentionalstateswould haveexactlythe samerepresentation
capacityas the one languageuserscan disposeof. Maybe sucha strong interpretation
of Intentionalitywould be a very uncharitableone, but there is much in httenliornliqt
that makessucha readingcoherent.[f Searlecomplainsthat sucha strongreductionist
readingwould result in the absurditythat speechactswould be possiblewithout any
languageat all (1991:97),,this interpretationcould still fall back on Searle'sthesisthat
there is a strict separation between representationand communication, that
representationcan be analyzedin a reductionisticmanner in terms of prelinguistic
torms of intentionality,and that languageonly comesinto playas a meansof expressing
one's prelinguisticmental statesin order to communicatethem (Searle1983:178).
It is clear from Searle'sresponseto Apel (1991:96-99),that Searlethinks that
his views are extremelymisrepresentedin Apel's readingof Intentionaliry.There cannot
'lntentionality'to
mean that we
be any doubt that Searledoes not intend his thesisin
can explain the meaning of illocutionaryforces without lingusitic notions: "lt is
emphaticallynot part of my claim that there are no illocutionaryactswhich are so to
speak essentiallylinguistic.It is nol my view that all speechactscould be performed by
beingswho had no lanuageat all, nor is it my view that all speechacts have conditions
of satisfactionwhich can be specifiedin terms that make no referenceto conventions
of language"(1991:97).It is mainly this last fbrmulation,in particularthe questionas
'conditions satisfaction
can be specifiedin termsthat make no reference
to whether
of
to conventionsof language',where I have the strongt-eelingthat Searleis comrnitted
to this view even if he explicitlydeniesit. And this impressionis not only groundedin
Searle'sanswer to the questionof how we get trom physicsto semantics,but it is
reinforcedby Searle'sreactionto a quite similarproblemwhich William Alston (1991:
74ff) formulated.
Alston had doubts about the fruitfulnessof the notion of cclnditionsof
satisfaction,
becausehe had the impressionthat conditionsof satisfaction
had to make
referenceto linguisticrules."The notion of conditionsof satisfactionfor illocutionary
acts",Alston writes,"is derivedfrom the previousspeciticationof illocutionarypoints
and directionsof fit, and so is heir to all the ills that plaguethe latter. Conditionsof
satisfactiondo not, contrary to what one might at first suppose,give us a new and
independentway of analyzingillocutionary-act
concepts."(1991: 75) Of course one
shouldnow expectan answerquite similarto the answerSearlegaveto Apel, namely
that it is a misunderstanding
to think that he - Searle- thought that the conditionsof
satisfactionof speechactscould be specifiedwithout any referenceto linguisticrules.
But SearlearguesagainstAlston in a totallyunexpectedmanner:"He (Alston) seems
to think that the analysisof Intentionaistatesin terms of conditionsof satisfzrction
essentiallyrequiresa referenceto speechacts.But in my view that is not correct.(...)
The conditionsof satisfaction
of linquisticentitiesare derivedfrom thoseof intentional

Intentionalily, speechacts and contmunicative action

769

statesand not conversely."


Thesetwo reactionsseemto me quite inconsistent.
AgainstApel's interpretation
Searleoffersthe view that in order to specifythe conditionsof satisfactionof a speech
actwe must refer to conventionsof language.But when Alston complainsthat in this
caseconditionsof satisfactionwould not give us an independent way of analyzing
illocutionary-actconcepts, he falls back upon the thesis that the conditions of
satisfaction
of linguisticentitiesare derived from those of intentional states.And this
makesit impossiblefor me to developfor myself a clear view of which
inconsistency
thesisit is that Searlewantedto developin his book Intentionaliryand to defend against
Habermas'and Apel's critical complaints.

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