Volume 2, January 1992

Sprechakttheorie I

Karl-Otto Apel
Pages 2-15

Illokutionäre Bedeutung und normative Gültigkeit
Die transzendentalpragmatische Begründung der uneingeschränkten kommunikativen Verständigung

The paper tries first to show that P. Strawson’s and J. Searle’s proposal of explicating the illocutionary meaning of speech-acts (or corresponding explicit sentences) in terms of the conditions of fulfilment or satisfaction (with regard to the underlying intentional states of mind) is unsatisfactory. It provides no full understanding of the meaning of speech-acts, at least not of non-constative acts, as e.g. orders, requests, demands, confessions, promisses, etc.; for, through its quasi-verificationist horizon, it provides no unterstanding of the illocutionary force in terms of the conditions of accepting the validity-claims that are connected with the performance of the act. Thus far the paper complies with Habermas’ approach. There remains however an ambiguity with regard to the good reasons for accepting a speech-act, since on the level of life-world communication and interaction not only validity-claims and pertinent arguments but also threats and offers are functioning as socially binding illocutionary forces (thus e.g. not only in coercions like "hands up" but in all kinds of negotiations and bargainings). How is it possible to show by a cogent argument that openly strategical acts as offers and threats cannot fulfill the role of providing good reasons for accepting speech-acts in the sense of unrestricted Verständigung (i.e. communicative understanding and coming to agreement) but are parasitic upon non-strategical ways of consensual communication by understanding and accepting validity-claims? The paper argues that this suggestive contention cannot be proved, i.e. grounded by a descriptive analysis of the normal function of communicative actions in the life-world but only - indeed - by transcendental pragmatic reflection on the normative conditions of argumentative discourse which cannot be denied without committing a performative self-contradiction.