Commands and requests

Commands and requests
mab5135
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#1 - Quote - Permalink
Posted May 24, 2007 - 1:29 PM:
Subject: Commands and requests
What is the difference between a command and a request? I've been wondering this question for quite some time, and I'm trying to write a paper collecting different ideas about the two sentence structures.
Pete
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#2 - Quote - Permalink
Posted May 24, 2007 - 2:34 PM:

Commands and requests often differ in grammatical form (e.g. "Do F" versus "Please do F.") But this grammatical difference is not decisive. A general 'asking' his troops 'Please do F' is probably issuing a command; when I say 'Hand me the hammer' when we're working on a project together, I'm issuing a request. Intent is the key.

One difference between commands and requests is in the kind of reason that the imperative purports to give the audience. Commands are intended to give the audience an obligation to do F; requests are intended to give the audience a reason to do F that leaves them the option, should there be stronger reasons against doing F, not to do F.

There's more to a request than this, though. Grice draws a distinction between giving a greedy man a reason to leave the room and requesting that he leave the room. If you throw a $100 bill out the window, you've (a) made the greedy man aware of your desire that he leave the room, and (b) given him a reason to leave the room. But throwing the money out the window is not requesting that he leave. When you request him to leave, you intend that his recognition of your desire that he leave the room be his reason for leaving the room. In the former case, you intended that the money on the street be his reason for leaving the room, not his recognition of your desire that he leave the room.
mab5135
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Posted May 25, 2007 - 6:56 AM:

Brilliant analysis, Pete!
Pete
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Posted May 25, 2007 - 10:40 AM:

mab5135 wrote:
Brilliant analysis, Pete!


Thanks, wish it was mine. But I got interested in this question a while back and read around in the area. Good luck w/ the paper.
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