Mitchell Green: Can a robot perform a speech act?
Green and Michel, in ‘What Might Machines Mean?’ (Minds and Machines, vol. 32 (2022), pp. 323–8), argue that under certain conditions, artificially intelligent robots are able to perform speech acts in the traditional, semi-technical sense of ‘speech act’ traceable to Austin and Searle. In their, ‘AI Assertion’ (OSF Preprints, 2023), Butlin and Viebahn contend that Green and Michel’s showcase examples do not meet the normative standards required to make assertions. In this talk I will recount Green and Michel’s original argument, which stresses that the sorts of mental states and conceptual competence underpinning them required for the performance of many speech acts do not require consciousness. I then reply to Butlin’s and Viebahn’s challenge, showing that with a modest clarification of their position, Green and Michel can accommodate Butlin’s and Viebahn’s objection while maintaining their original contention of the possibility that artificially intelligent robots can illocute.
Mitch Green is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Connecticut, and Editor-in-Chief of Philosophia. His research concerns pragmatics, philosophy of language, aesthetics, and the philosophy of mind.