Authority and Accommodation

  • Laura Caponetto
Keywords: Accommodation, Presuppositions, Authority, Speech Acts, Felicity Conditions


“Authority” is said in many ways. Formal authority – i.e. authority conferred through official appointment – is one such way. Informal authority is another. Rae Langton (2015, 2018a, 2018b) has recently argued that speakers can acquire informal authority via presupposition accommodation: a speaker acts as if they had authority over their hearer, and they can come to acquire that authority if nobody objects. This paper explores the reversed pattern. I argue that speakers sometimes act as if their hearer had authority over them – which gives the hearer a chance to grab that authority ‘in the moment’. After defending the philosophical plausibility of this claim, I address some of its moral and societal implications. In closing, I broaden the picture by maintaining that accommodation may supply felicity conditions other than the authority condition. It thus plays a greater role in illocutionary success than traditionally acknowledged.


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How to Cite
Caponetto, L. (2022) “Authority and Accommodation”, Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio. doi: 10.4396/SFL2021A32.