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Speech Acts


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to MA students in Philosophy.

Admission to one of the following programmes is required:

  • MA Philosophy 60 EC: specialisation History and Philosophy of the Sciences

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Natural Sciences

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Psychology


Speech act theory is generally understood as part of philosophy of language: we not merely use language to describe; we do things with words. The course investigates the question to what extent speech acts should play a role in logic. How essential is the asssertive force to logic? Do we need other speech acts, such as requesting or challenging a claim, to develop a dialogical logic? Do we need a special act of supposal? Are there special speech acts we use in fiction?

We read writings by Searle, Frege, Dummett, Davidson and Martin-Löf.

Course objectives

Students who successfully complete the course:

  • will have knowledge of classical and modern texts relating to speech acts, and will learn to apply this knowledge to new fields , such as logic

  • will have learned to read in a critical way difficult texts by philosophers and present orally and in written form a clear critical analysis of these texts.

  • will have developed in a relative independent way a thesis project of her/his own during class and will be able to implement the reactions during the class in his own project.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • actively participate in a seminar, on 500 level;

  • give oral presentations with critical questions;

  • write a medium size paper on a topic relating to the course, showing analytic, argumentative, independent and critical thinking together with insight into the basic problems and concepts in speech act theory and logic.


MA Philosophy 60 EC MA Philosophy 120 EC

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours

  • Attending seminars (13 x 3 hours): 39 hours:

  • Preparation seminars / study of compulsory literature: 161 hours

  • Writing paper: 80 hours

Assessment method


  • Paper


The paper counts as 100% of the grade.


The resit consists of one examination, consisting of a paper. The mark for the resit replaces the previously earned mark for the paper.

Class participation and completion of practical assignments is a mandatory requirement for taking the resit.
Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination cannot take the resit.

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • Communication

Reading list

To be announced.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number, which can be found in the timetables for courses and exams.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. M.S. van der Schaar


Not applicable.