“Speech Act Theory and the Multiple Aims of Science”

Franco, Paul L. 2019 “Speech Act Theory and the Multiple Aims of Science.” Philosophy of Science 86:5 https://doi.org/10.1086/705452

I draw upon speech act theory to understand the speech acts appropriate to the multiple aims of scientific practice and the role of nonepistemic values in evaluating speech acts made relative to those aims. First, I consider work that distinguishes explanatory speech acts from descriptive speech acts within scientific practice. I then show how speech act theory provides a framework to make sense of explaining’s and describing’s distinct felicity conditions. Finally, I argue that if explaining aims to convey understanding to particular audiences rather than describe literally across contexts, then evaluating explanatory speech acts directed to nonscientists involves nonepistemic criteria.

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