Authoritatively speaking : a speech pragmatic analysis of authority and power
A speaker needs authority to perform some speech acts, such as giving orders. A paradigm example of this is when a manager orders their employee to take out the trash; ordinarily, these words will give the employee a normative reason of considerable strength for them to take out the trash, and so they should take out the trash, all things considered. I will explore three related problems regarding a speaker's authority. First, there is the problem of defining how and within what scope a speaker
... has the capacity to set norms for others -- I will call this the Authority Problem. An answer to the Authority Problem would settle what constitutes a manager's capacity to change the normative status of their employee. Second, there is the problem of showing how a speaker uses their authority to produce felicitous authoritative speech -- I will call this the Illocutionary Authority Problem. An answer to this problem will show how a manager exercises their capacity to alter the normative status of their employee, assuming they have such a capacity. Third, there is the problem of explaining how a speaker's right to produce authoritative speech can be systematically infringed -- I will call this the Problem of Discursive Injustice. An answer to this problem will explain how a manager can have their orders systematically misfire despite exercising their capacity to alter the normative status of others in the usual way, such as when the employee routinely misapprehends their manager's orders as being requests. To answer each of these problems within the philosophy of language, I draw on recent work in social and political philosophy. I defend the view that a speaker's authority to alter what someone else ought to do (by giving them and taking away normative reasons for action) is constituted entirely by the respect their addressee(s) have for their use of power directed at them. Further, a speaker's powers are the linguistic tools by which they attempt to exert this normative influence over their addressee(s). Finally, a speaker may be discursively entitled to use their power in specific institutions because of the role they occupy, and this speech can systematically misfire despite this entitlement because they are wrongfully deprived of the respect they deserve.