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‘Yo!’ and ‘Lo!’: The Pragmatic Topography of the Space of Reasons

‘Yo!’ and ‘Lo!’: The Pragmatic Topography of the Space of Reasons

Rebecca Kukla, Mark Lance

ISBN 9780674031470

Publication date: 01/15/2009

Much of twentieth-century philosophy was organized around the “linguistic turn,” in which metaphysical and epistemological issues were approached through an analysis of language. This turn was marked by two assumptions: that it was primarily the semantics of language that was relevant to broader philosophical issues, and that declarative assertions were the only verbal acts of serious philosophical interest. In ‘Yo!’ and ‘Lo!’ Rebecca Kukla and Mark Lance reject these assumptions. Looking at philosophical problems starting with the pragmatics of language, they develop a typology of pragmatic categories of speech within which declaratives have no uniquely privileged position. They demonstrate that non-declarative speech acts—including vocative hails (“Yo!”) and calls to shared attention (“Lo!”)—are as fundamental to the possibility and structure of meaningful language as are declaratives.

Entering into conversation with the work of Anglo-American philosophers such as Wilfrid Sellars, Robert Brandom, and John McDowell, and Continental philosophers including Heidegger and Althusser, ‘Yo!’ and ‘Lo!’ offers solutions (or dissolutions) to long-standing philosophical problems, such as how perception can be both inferentially fecund and responsive to an empirical world, and how moral judgment can be both objective and inherently motivating.


  • This project is important and exciting for many reasons, including its new themes for philosophical work, and its compelling new perspectives on some familiar issues. I found myself repeatedly finding unexpected insights and novel ways of formulating or addressing issues, or making wider philosophical connections.

    —Joseph Rouse, Wesleyan University


  • Rebecca Kukla is Professor of Philosophy, University of South Florida.
  • Mark Lance is Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Justice and Peace, Georgetown University.

Book Details

  • 256 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press