Elements of a plan-based theory of speech acts

Philip R. Cohen, C. Raymond Perrault

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores the truism that people think about what they say. It proposes that, to satisfy their own goals, people often plan their speech acts to affect their listeners' beliefs, goals, and emotional states. Such language use can be modelled by viewing speech acts as operators in a planning system, thus allowing both physical and speech acts to be integrated into plans. Methodological issues of how speech acts should be defined in a plan-based theory are illustrated by defining operators for requesting and informing. Plans containing those operators are presented and comparisons are drawn with Searle's formulation. The operators are shown to be inadequate since they cannot be composed to form questions (requests to inform) and multiparty requests (requests to request). By refining the operator definitions and by identifying some of the side effects of requesting, compositional adequacy is achieved. The solution leads to a metatheoretical principle for modelling speech acts as planning operators.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCommunication in Multiagent Systems
Subtitle of host publicationAgent Communication Languages and Conversation Policies
EditorsMarc-Philippe Huget
Place of PublicationBerlin Germany
Number of pages36
ISBN (Print)354040385X
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence
ISSN (Print)0302-9743

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