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date: 21 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article explores warnings and threats through the lens of popular illocutionary taxonomies. It argues that if we tap into moral philosophy to help carve out some important distinctions between types of warnings and threats, we find that these more specific concepts do constitute illlocutions. It shows that the principles used by John Searle, Kent Bach, and John Harnish to differentiate the categories of illocutions can be employed to analyze warnings and threats. When unconditional, warnings generally have what Searle calls an assertive illocutionary point, and threats a commissive (commitment-making) illocutionary point. However, the best way to explain conditional threats or warnings is through a combination of illocutions. The article concludes by describing a specific type of threat: noncommittal threats. It argues that noncommittal threats, unlike all other threats, involve assertions.

Keywords: warnings, threats, illocutionary taxonomy, moral philosophy, illocutions, John Searle, Kent Bach, John Harnish, assertion

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