The intentionality of questions – a critique of Searle’s analysis of speech acts
Searle’s analysis and classification of speech acts entails that one of the two components of a speech act is a proposition. The first part of the article demonstrates that the analysis and classification is misleading when applied to three authentic examples of questions embedded in an everyday activity. Considerations concerning the situations that give rise to the questions suggest that the discrepancy is due to assumptions about intentionality and perception implied by the proposition-based analysis and classification of speech acts. In the second part of the article, Searle’s theory of intentionality and perception is compared with cognitive ethnographic observations of the situations that give rise to the three questions. The comparison shows that Searle’s theory of intentionality and perception is insufficiently informative and partly misleading as regards human intentionality and perception in the performance of an everyday activity. The claim is that the assumptions about intentionality and perception that form the basis of the proposition-based analysis and classification of speech acts are insufficient as a basis for a general theory of speech acts.