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New PDF release: A Pragmatic Logic for Commands

By Melvin Joseph Adler

The aim of this essay is to either talk about instructions as a species of speech act and to debate instructions in the broader framework of the way they're used and reacted to.

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Sample text

Each person on the hierarchy can be called to task by his superior for the disobedience; for example, if an army Sergeant orders a Platoon commander to order his men to march double time and they do not, then the Sergeant holds the Platoon commander responsible. Except for cases of insubordination, where higher-ups might interfere (under the auspices of army regula­ tions), the Sergeant will never ask the members of the Platoon directly why they did not march double time. , army rules and regulations determine who is responsible for what).

On the other hand, I think that semantics has a wider role to play vis-à-vis com­ mands than merely providing rules for the interpretation of (the words of) commands. To be more specific, if commands are considered institu­ tional acts and if obedience is taken into account, then commands seem to me to require a wider interpretation than is allowed for in linguis­ tics: consequently, the logic of commands of this essay isn't really a logic in the traditional sense of the word. To clarify what I mean, consider the following example.

Furthermore, because of this ability to find equivalent sentences, we may without loss of generality restrict our attention to the 'b' form of hypothetical imperatives. Now, how are we to analyze conditional sentences such as (21) whose antecedent and consequent are both imperatives ? (21) *If go to the largest grocer in Oxford, then go to Grimbly Hughes ! (Hare 1952:3) 4 9 This sentence is, by native speakers, considered to be ill-formed: the only context in which it is taken as making perfectly good sense is in a discussion on logic !

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