Speech act theory is one of the more lasting products of the linguistic movement in philosophy of the mid-twentieth century. Within philosophy itself the movement's products did not in general prove so durable. Particularly striking in this respect is the perceived fate of what was one of the most characteristic applications of the linguistic turn in philosophy, namely the view that many traditional philosophical problems are such as to yield to an understanding of the distinctive function of a particular part of language. Most typically, the crucial insight was held to be that despite appearances, the function of the part of language in question is not assertoric, or descriptive, and that the traditional problems arose at least in part from a failure to appreciate this point. Thus problems in moral philosophy were thought to yield to an appreciation that moral discourse is expressive rather than descriptive, problems in the philosophy of mind to an understanding of the distinctive role of psychological ascriptions, and so on. The philosophical journals of the 1950s are rich with views like these. (No general term for this approach seems to have become widely accepted at the time. I shall call it 'non-factualism', for what it denies, most characteristically, is the fact-stating role of language of a certain kind.)

A t the time, many of these non-factualist endeavours drew on the new terminology of speech act theory, taking their lead at least in part from J .L. Austin. It is therefore somewhat ironic that when non-factualism came to be seen as discredited, one of the works responsible was Searle's Speech Acts.' Non-factualism was thus disowned by the movement from which, at least in part, it drew its inspiration. So it is that while speech act theory prospered outside philosophy, its early pretensions to application within philosophy were reviled or forgotten. Non-factualism was widely thought to have fallen victim to objections urged in the 1960s by Searle, and independently by Peter Geach (who took his inspiration from an argument of Frege's).