PERFORMATIVES IN THE JURIDICAL AND ETHICAL LANGUAGE
The author tries to give an explication of the concept of a performative expression as well to show the practical application of this idea for the analysis of juridical and ethical language.
The starting intuition is the assumption that performative expressions are those which are results of a cultural acting. The idea of a cultural acting is explicated by the reminding of the fact that in certain circumstances natural acts (e.g. taking off a hat) become cultural acts (e.g. greeting), if they fulfil conditions prescribed by the rules of cultural interpretation which are valid in a given culture. For instance, if X has taken off his hat when seeing Y, it means that X has greeted Y, but exclusively in the case when X is a man and when at least X has known Y. Fulfilling of these rules is a necessary condition of belonging to the cultural group.
The above definition of an cultural act applies both to juridical acts, customs, ethical acts (e.g. contracting of obligations) and to religious ceremonies, lingual behaviour etc. As all lingual expressions are cultural objects (linguistic rules being a kind of rules of cultural interpretation), the performative expressions must be in some way distinguished from other lingual expressions. For this purpose the idea of a range of cultural acts is introduced. If a rule of a cultural interpretation has the form “if X performs a natural act Z in a moment t, X performs in t a cultural act C, provided that he fulfils conditions W”, the act C would be called a cultural act of a first range. However, if the principle of cultural interpretation has a form: “if X performs a cultural act C1 in a moment t, he performs a cultural act C2, if he fulfils the conditions W”, where C1 means a cultural act of a (k—i) range, the C2 would be called the cultural act of a k-range.
Performative expressions are such lingual expressions the formulation of which is a cultural act of a second range, as it is in conformity with two types of rules of cultural interpretation: lingual (as the performative is a lingual expression) and customary, juridical, religious, or any other act (as the expression of a performative is a customary, juridical, religious, or other act, and not only a lingual one). Evidently the idea of performative is useful for the analysis of juridical and ethical language.