Decisions as Performatives

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Eddy Nahmias - Committee Chair

Second Advisor

Dan Weiskopf - Committee Member

Third Advisor

George Graham - Committee Member


Decisions are performatives - or at least, they share important features with performative utterances that can elucidate our theory of what type of thought they are, and what they do. Namely, decisions have an analogous force to that of performatives, where the force of a propositional attitude or utterance is constituted by (i) its point, or purpose, which is mainly a matter of its direction-of-fit, and (ii) its felicity conditions. The force of both decisions and performatives is to bring into being the states of affairs represented in their intentional contents, merely in virtue of the decision or performative’s occurrence and the satisfaction of the felicity conditions they presuppose. The first chapter of the thesis explicates this general framework, and the second and third attempt to show some of the work it can do for a theory of decisions.

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