Pragmatics, Modularity and Mind‐reading

Mind and Language 17 (1-2):3–23 (2002)

Abstract

The central problem for pragmatics is that sentence meaning vastly underdetermines speaker’s meaning. The goal of pragmatics is to explain how the gap between sentence meaning and speaker’s meaning is bridged. This paper defends the broadly Gricean view that pragmatic interpretation is ultimately an exercise in mind-reading, involving the inferential attribution of intentions. We argue, however, that the interpretation process does not simply consist in applying general mind-reading abilities to a particular (communicative) domain. Rather, it involves a dedicated comprehension module, with its own special principles and mechanisms. We show how such a metacommunicative module might have evolved, and what principles and mechanisms it might contain.

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Author Profiles

Dan Sperber
Institut Jean Nicod
Deirdre Wilson
University College London

Citations of this work

Why Do Humans Reason? Arguments for an Argumentative Theory.Dan Sperber - 2011 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (2):57.
Mindreading in Infancy.Peter Carruthers - 2013 - Mind and Language 28 (2):141-172.
Relevance Theory.Deirdre Wilson & Dan Sperber - 2002 - In L. Horn & G. Ward (eds.), The Handbook of Pragmatics. Blackwell. pp. 607-632.
Semantics Without Semantic Content.Daniel W. Harris - 2022 - Mind and Language 37 (3):304-328.

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