The paradox of ‘ordinary language philosophy’: ambiguous expressions in everyday talk

Grimwood, Tom and Miller, Paul K. (2011) The paradox of ‘ordinary language philosophy’: ambiguous expressions in everyday talk. In: JL Austin Centenary Conference, 5-7 April 2011, Lancaster University, UK. Full text not available from this repository.

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The influence of ‘ordinary language philosophy’ (OLP), such as that of John Austin and Ludwig Wittgenstein, has been felt throughout the social sciences over the last three decades, not least in its catalysis of the so-called linguistic turn and the rise of cultural studies. Since this original shockwave, a great deal of innovation and progress in the study of ordinary language itself has emanated from these social sciences. We contend, however, that these important movements have had limited reciprocal impact within philosophical circles. In this paper, using the case of ‘ambiguous expression’, we explore how a range of insights from contemporary social scientific approaches to the use of everyday language (not least Conversation Analysis) might well have something to ‘give back’ to philosophy. Drawing on the analogous critique of Euclidean geometry advanced by Benoit B. Mandelbrot in The Fractal Geometry of Nature, we argue that the philosophy of language – as a whole – can be paralysed by its use of invented and ‘ideal’ cases which necessarily undermine its claim to provide insight into the ‘ordinary’ language that manifests in real social interactions. To this extent, we conclude that in order to maintain relevance and dynamism today, OLP may have to either give up some of its claim to illuminate ‘ordinary’ language, or else relinquish some of its status as a full ‘philosophy’.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)
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Departments: Applied Psychology and Social Studies
Health and Medical Sciences
Health and Social Care Evaluations (HASCE)
Depositing User: Paul Miller
Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2016 11:03
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2018 13:22

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