Richmond Thomason
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
We relate the theory of presupposition accommodation to a computational framework for reasoning in conversation. We understand presuppositions as private commitments the speaker makes in using an utterance but expects the listener to recognize based on mutual information. On this understanding, the conversation can move forward not just through the positive effects of interlocutors’ utterances but also from the retrospective insight interlocutors gain about one anothers’ mental states from observing what they do. Our title, ENLIGHTENED UPDATE, highlights such cases. Our approach fleshes out two key principles: that interpretation is a form of intention recognition; and that intentions are complex informational structures, which specify commitments to conditions and to outcomes as well as to actions. We present a formalization and implementation of these principles for a simple conversational agent, and draw on this case study to argue that pragmatic reasoning is holistic in character, continuous with common-sense reasoning about collaborative activities, and most effectively characterized by associating specific, reliable interpretive constraints directly with grammatical forms. In showing how to make such claims precise and to develop theories that respect them, we illustrate the general place of computation in the cognitive science of language.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 64,159
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Demonstratives: An Essay on the Semantics, Logic, Metaphysics and Epistemology of Demonstratives and Other Indexicals.David Kaplan - 1989 - In Joseph Almog, John Perry & Howard Wettstein (eds.), Themes From Kaplan. Oxford University Press. pp. 481-563.
Unified Theories of Cognition.Allen Newell - 1990 - Harvard University Press.
Meaning.H. Paul Grice - 1957 - Philosophical Review 66 (3):377-388.
Scorekeeping in a Language Game.David Lewis - 1979 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 8 (1):339--359.
Common Ground.Robert C. Stalnaker - 2002 - Linguistics and Philosophy 25 (5-6):701-721.

View all 27 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

What is Presupposition Accommodation, Again?Kai von Fintel - 2008 - Philosophical Perspectives 22 (1):137--170.
Reductionism About Understanding Why.Insa Lawler - 2016 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 116 (2):229-236.
Expectation Biases and Context Management with Negative Polar Questions.Alex Silk - 2020 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 49 (1):51-92.
An Epistemic Step for Anti-Presuppositions.E. Chemla - 2008 - Journal of Semantics 25 (2):141-173.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
73 ( #148,472 of 2,454,826 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
7 ( #98,232 of 2,454,826 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes