Goodwin, Jean. (Forthcoming, 2017) Effective because ethical: Speech act theory as a framework for scientists’ communication. In Susanna Priest, Jean Goodwin & Michael Dahlstrom (Eds.), Ethics and practice in science communication. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Speech act theory provides a perspective on scientists’ public communication which is grounded in ordinary intuitions, respects the audience’s active role in communication, fulfills the hope expressed in talk of “dialogue” and”engagement,” and allows for the development of a richer communication ethics. I outline how in a Gricean approach to speech act theory, an audience’s trust is grounded on a communicator’s undertaking of responsibility. I go on to offer as examples four speech acts of particular relevance to scientist-communicators: exercising authority, reporting, advising and advocating.