The Phantom Economy   /   Summer 2010   /    From the Editor

From the Editors

In his famous book, How to do things with words, the philosopher J. L. Austin defined a category of speech he called “performative.” Unlike utterances that describe or report or simply say something, Austin argued, a performative utterance is one that makes itself true by being said. It is a certain kind of action. He offered such examples as the “I do” spoken in the context of a wedding and the pronouncing of a ship’s name at launch, while smashing a bottle against its bow. These words “perform” the commitment or naming; they bring it into existence.

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