Sharedness as an innate basis for communication in the infant

In M. A. Gernsbacher & S. J. Derry (eds.), Proceedings of the 20th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. 162-166 (1998)
From a cognitive perspective, intentional communication may be viewed as an agent's activity overtly aimed at modifying a partner's mental states. According to standard Gricean definitions, this requires each party to be able to ascribe mental states to the other, i.e., to entertain a so-called theory of mind. According to the relevant experimental literature, however, such capability does not appear before the third or fourth birthday; it would follow that children under that age should not be viewed as communicating agents. In order to solve the resulting dilemma, we propose that certain specific components of an agent's cognitive architecture (namely, a peculiar version of sharedness and communicative intention), are necessary and sufficient to explain infant communication in a mentalist framework. We also argue that these components are innate in the human species
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