Several recent attempts to isolate the fallacy in the view that I am committed to particular moral principles merely by describing a man as having promised seem to me to have erred through excess of zeal. The argument which commits the fallacy is at its most explicit in an article by Professor Searle, and the attempted refutations with which I am concerned fasten upon the first step in his ‘deduction’, which moves from
(1) Jones uttered the words ‘I hereby promise to pay you, Smith, five dollars’
(2) Jones promised to pay Smith five dollars
by way of the ‘fact about English usage’ which Searle states as:
(1a) Under certain conditions C anyone who utters the words (sentence) ‘I hereby promise to pay you, Smith, five dollars’ promises to pay Smith five dollars (p. 44).