This book is divided into two parts. In the first, Austin’s general views about action are discussed in the light of the work of later philosophers, in particular G.E.M. Anscombe, Donald Davidson, Jennifer Hornsby, Alvin I. Goldman, Irving Thalberg and J. Jarvis Thomson. The topics dealt with include the individuation and description of actions, their parts and effects, adverbial modification, intention, purpose and deliberation.
The second part deals with one class of actions in which Austin was particularly interested, namely, speech actions. The nature of the relation between locutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary acts receives clarification from the earlier analysis of action in general. The similarities as well as the differences between verbal and non-verbal actions are brought out. There is also a chapter on the relation between speech actions and truth and a discussion of the status of speech actions in poetry, drama and narrative fiction.