Gricean communication, language development, and animal minds

Philosophy Compass 13 (12):e12550 (2018)
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Humans alone acquire language. According to one influen- tial school of thought, we do this because we possess a uniquely human ability to act with and attribute “Gricean” communicative intentions. A challenge for this view is that attributing communicative intent seems to require cognitive abilities that infant language learners lack. After considering a range of responses to this challenge, I argue that infant language development can be explained, because Gricean communication is cognitively less demanding than many suppose. However, a consequence of this is that abilities for Gricean communication are unlikely to be uniquely human.



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Richard Moore
University of Warwick

References found in this work

Meaning.Herbert Paul Grice - 1957 - Philosophical Review 66 (3):377-388.
Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language.William P. Alston - 1970 - Philosophical Quarterly 20 (79):172-179.
Relevance.D. Sperber & Deirdre Wilson - 1986 - Communication and Cognition: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly Journal 2.

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