Illocutionary silencing Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 83 (2002) 1-15.


Rae Langton and Jennifer Hornsby have argued that pornography might create a climate whereby a woman’s ability to refuse sex is literally silenced or removed. Langton and Hornsby’s central argument is that this failure of ‘uptake’ of the speaker’s intention means that the illocution of refusal has not taken place.

In this paper, I challenge the claims from the Austinian philosophy of language which feature in this argument. I argue that uptake is not in general required for illocution, nor is it required for refusal in particular. I conclude with remarks on the relationship between illocutionary and perlocutionary speech-acts.