a1 Catholic University of Sāo Paulo
The claim made by Harris (1978) that the descriptivist position in respect of performatives is self-defeating has engendered some spirited controversy through the years since then (see Edmondson 1979, 1983, Wachtel, 1980; Spielmann, 1980; Taylor & Wolf, 1981). Let me declare right at the outset that I am with the non-descriptivists. Nevertheless, in what follows, I wish to show (a) that no brusque argument of the sort originally advanced by Harris or subsequently marshalled by the others can help settle the dispute either way, and (b) that the controversy so far has been riddled with a good deal of futile cross-talk which has blinded the participants in the intellectual free-for-all to some of the real issues at hand.
(Received February 07 1984)