Can saying something make it so? The nature of seditious harm

Sarah Sorial*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, I redress an analytic deficit in debates about sedition by providing an explanatorily account of the relation between speech and action using speech act theory as developed by J. L. Austin. The specific focus will be on speech acts advocating violence against the state, in the form of religious sermons preaching violent jihad or glorifying acts of terrorism. This philosophical account will have legal consequences for how we classify speech acts deemed to be dangerous, or to cause harm. It also suggests that because speech can constitute action or conduct in certain circumstances, sedition laws, in principle, might be defensible, but not in their current form.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-305
Number of pages33
JournalLaw and Philosophy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2010
Externally publishedYes


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