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Dan Sperber
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  1. Relevance: Communication and Cognition.Dan Sperber & Deirdre Wilson - 1986 - Oxford: Blackwell.
     
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  2. The Enigma of Reason.Dan Sperber & Hugo Mercier (eds.) - 2017 - Harvard University Press.
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  3.  93
    Explaining Culture: A Naturalistic Approach.Dan Sperber - 1996 - Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
    The book is full of novel and thought provoking ideas and is a pleasure to read.
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  4. Why Do Humans Reason? Arguments for an Argumentative Theory.Dan Sperber - 2011 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (2):57.
    Short abstract (98 words). Reasoning is generally seen as a means to improve knowledge and make better decisions. However, much evidence shows that reasoning often leads to epistemic distortions and poor decisions. This suggests that the function of reasoning should be rethought. Our hypothesis is that the function of reasoning is argumentative. It is to devise and evaluate arguments intended to persuade. Reasoning so conceived is adaptive given humans’ exceptional dependence on communication and vulnerability to misinformation. A wide range of (...)
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  5. Epistemic Vigilance.Dan Sperber, Fabrice Clément, Christophe Heintz, Olivier Mascaro, Hugo Mercier, Gloria Origgi & Deirdre Wilson - 2010 - Mind and Language 25 (4):359-393.
    Humans massively depend on communication with others, but this leaves them open to the risk of being accidentally or intentionally misinformed. To ensure that, despite this risk, communication remains advantageous, humans have, we claim, a suite of cognitive mechanisms for epistemic vigilance. Here we outline this claim and consider some of the ways in which epistemic vigilance works in mental and social life by surveying issues, research and theories in different domains of philosophy, linguistics, cognitive psychology and the social sciences.
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  6. A Mutualistic Approach to Morality: The Evolution of Fairness by Partner Choice.Nicolas Baumard, Jean-Baptiste André & Dan Sperber - 2013 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 36 (1):59-122.
    What makes humans moral beings? This question can be understood either as a proximate question or as an ultimate question. The question is about the mental and social mechanisms that produce moral judgments and interactions, and has been investigated by psychologists and social scientists. The question is about the fitness consequences that explain why humans have morality, and has been discussed by evolutionary biologists in the context of the evolution of cooperation. Our goal here is to contribute to a fruitful (...)
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  7.  94
    Meaning and Relevance.Deirdre Wilson & Dan Sperber - 2012 - Cambridge University Press.
    When people speak, their words never fully encode what they mean, and the context is always compatible with a variety of interpretations. How can comprehension ever be achieved? Wilson and Sperber argue that comprehension is an inference process guided by precise expectations of relevance. What are the relations between the linguistically encoded meanings studied in semantics and the thoughts that humans are capable of entertaining and conveying? How should we analyse literal meaning, approximations, metaphors and ironies? Is the ability to (...)
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  8. Pragmatics, Modularity and Mind‐Reading.Dan Sperber & Deirdre Wilson - 2002 - Mind and Language 17 (1-2):3–23.
    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, (...)
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  9.  6
    Contents.Dan Sperber & Hugo Mercier - 2017 - In Dan Sperber & Hugo Mercier (eds.), The Enigma of Reason. Harvard University Press.
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  10. Relevance Theory.Deirdre Wilson & Dan Sperber - 2002 - In L. Horn & G. Ward (eds.), The Handbook of Pragmatics. Blackwell. pp. 607-632.
  11. The Cognitive Foundations of Cultural Stability and Diversity.Dan Sperber & Lawrence A. Hirschfeld - 2004 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 8 (1):40-46.
  12. Truthfulness and Relevance.Deirdre Wilson & Dan Sperber - 2002 - Mind 111 (443):583-632.
    This paper questions the widespread view that verbal communication is governed by a maxim, norm or convention of truthfulness which applies at the level of what is literally meant, or what is said. Pragmatic frameworks based on this view must explain the frequent occurrence and acceptability of loose and figurative uses of language. We argue against existing explanations of these phenomena and provide an alternative account, based on the assumption that verbal communication is governed not by expectations of truthfulness but (...)
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  13.  40
    Attribution of Beliefs by 13-Month-Old Infants.Dan Sperber & Stefania Caldi - unknown
    In two experiments, we investigated whether 13-month-old infants expect agents to behave in a way consistent with information to which they have been exposed. Infants watched animations in which an animal was either provided information or prevented from gathering information about the actual location of an object. The animal then searched successfully or failed to retrieve it. Infants’ looking times suggest that they expected searches to be effective when—and only when—the agent had had access to the relevant information. This result (...)
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  14.  60
    The Moral, Epistemic, and Mindreading Components of Children’s Vigilance Towards Deception.Dan Sperber - 2009 - Cognition 112 (3):367-380.
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  15.  69
    An Evolutionary Perspective on Testimony and Argumentation.Dan Sperber - 2001 - Philosophical Topics 29 (1/2):401-413.
  16. An Objection to the Memetic Approach to Culture.Dan Sperber - 2012 - Darwinizing Culture.
    This chapter determines a major empirical hurdle for any future discipline of memetics. It mainly shows that one can find very similar copies of some cultural item, link these copies through a causal chain of events which faithfully reproduced those items, and nevertheless not have an example of memetic inheritance. In addition, the stability of cultural patterns is proof that fidelity in copying is high despite individual variations. It is also believed that what is offered as an explanation is precisely (...)
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  17. Intuitive and Reflective Beliefs.Dan Sperber - 1997 - Mind and Language 12 (1):67-83.
    Humans have two kinds of beliefs, intuitive beliefs and reflective beliefs. Intuitive beliefs are a most fundamental category of cognition, defined in the architecture of the mind. They are formulated in an intuitive mental lexicon. Humans are also capable of entertaining an indefinite variety of higher-order or "reflective" propositional attitudes, many of which are of a credal sort. Reasons to hold "reflective beliefs" are provided by other beliefs that describe the source of the reflective belief as reliable, or that provide (...)
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  18.  99
    Metarepresentations in an Evolutionary Perspective.Dan Sperber - 2000 - In [Book Chapter] (in Press). Oxford University Press.
    Humans are expert users of metarepresentations. How has this human metarepresentational capacity evolved? In order to contribute to the ongoing debate on this question, the chapter focuses on three more specific issues: i. How do humans metarepresent representations? ii. What came first: language, or metarepresentations? iii. Do humans have more than one metarepresentational ability?
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  19.  14
    Metarepresentations: A Multidisciplinary Perspective.Dan Sperber (ed.) - 2000 - Oxford University Press USA.
    This the tenth volume in the Vancouver Studies in Cogntive Science series. It concerns metarepresentation: the construction and use of representations that represent other representations. Metarepresentations are ubiquitous among human beings, whenever we think or talk about mental states or linguistic acts, or theorize about the mind or language. It is crucial to the unconscious process we use to divine the mental states of others, and ultimately to any workable theory of the mind. This volume collects previously unpublished studies on (...)
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  20.  57
    Précis of Relevance: Communication and Cognition.Dan Sperber & Deirdre Wilson - 1987 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 10 (4):697.
  21.  87
    Evolution, Communication and the Proper Function of Language.Gloria Origgi & Dan Sperber - 2000 - In Peter Carruthers & Andrew Chamberlain (eds.), Evolution and the Human Mind: Language, Modularity and Social Cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 140--169.
    Language is both a biological and a cultural phenomenon. Our aim here is to discuss, in an evolutionary perspective, the articulation of these two aspects of language. For this, we draw on the general conceptual framework developed by Ruth Millikan (1984) while at the same time dissociating ourselves from her view of language.
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  22. A Deflationary Account of Metaphor.Dan Sperber & Deirdre Wilson - 2008 - In Ray Gibbs (ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Metaphor and Thought. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 84-105.
    On the relevance-theoretic approach outlined in this paper, linguistic metaphors are not a natural kind, and ―metaphor‖ is not a theoretically important notion in the study of verbal communication. Metaphorical interpretations are arrived at in exactly the same way as literal, loose and hyperbolic interpretations: there is no mechanism specific to metaphors, and no interesting generalisation that applies only to them. In this paper, we defend this approach in detail by showing how the same inferential procedure applies to utterances at (...)
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  23.  54
    Intuitive and Reflective Inferences.Hugo Mercier & Dan Sperber - 2009 - In Keith Frankish & Jonathan St B. T. Evans (eds.), In Two Minds: Dual Processes and Beyond. Oxford University Press. pp. 149--170.
    Much evidence has accumulated in favor of such a dual view of reasoning. There is however some vagueness in the way the two systems are characterized. Instead of a principled distinction, we are presented with a bundle of contrasting features - slow/fast, automatic/controlled, explicit/implicit, associationist/rule based, modular/central - that, depending on the specific dual process theory, are attributed more or less exclusively to one of the two systems. As Evans states in a recent review, “it would then be helpful to (...)
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  24. In Defense of Massive Modularity.Dan Sperber - 2001 - In Emmanuel Dupoux (ed.), Language, Brain and Cognitive Development: Essays in Honor of Jacques Mehler. MIT Press.
  25.  44
    Moral Reputation: An Evolutionary and Cognitive Perspective.Dan Sperber & Nicolas Baumard - 2012 - Mind and Language 27 (5):495-518.
    From an evolutionary point of view, the function of moral behaviour may be to secure a good reputation as a co-operator. The best way to do so may be to obey genuine moral motivations. Still, one's moral reputation maybe something too important to be entrusted just to one's moral sense. A robust concern for one's reputation is likely to have evolved too. Here we explore some of the complex relationships between morality and reputation both from an evolutionary and a cognitive (...)
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  26.  11
    The Role of Attraction in Cultural Evolution.Nicolas Claidière & Dan Sperber - 2007 - Journal of Cognition and Culture 7 (1-2):89-111.
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  27.  61
    Beyond Speaker’s Meaning.Dan Sperber & Deirdre Wilson - 2015 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 15 (2):117-149.
    Our main aim in this paper is to show that constructing an adequate theory of communication involves going beyond Grice’s notion of speaker’s meaning. After considering some of the difficulties raised by Grice’s three-clause definition of speaker’s meaning, we argue that the characterisation of ostensive communication introduced in relevance theory can provide a conceptually unified explanation of a much wider range of communicative acts than Grice was concerned with, including cases of both ‘showing that’ and ‘telling that’, and with both (...)
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  28.  13
    Intuitive and Reflective Beliefs.Dan Sperber - 1997 - Mind and Language 12 (1):67-83.
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  29. Modularity and Relevance: How Can a Massively Modular Mind Be Flexible and Context-Sensitive.Dan Sperber - 2004 - In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Structure and Contents. Oxford University Press. pp. 53.
    The claim that the human cognitive system tends to allocate resources to the processing of available inputs according to their expected relevance is at the basis of relevance theory. The main thesis of this chapter is that this allocation can be achieved without computing expected relevance. When an input meets the input condition of a given modular procedure, it gives this procedure some initial level of activation. Input-activated procedures are in competition for the energy resources that would allow them to (...)
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  30.  27
    Argumentation: Its Adaptiveness and Efficacy.Hugo Mercier & Dan Sperber - 2011 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (2):94-111.
    Having defended the usefulness of our definition of reasoning, we stress that reasoning is not only for convincing but also for evaluating arguments, and that as such it has an epistemic function. We defend the evidence supporting the theory against several challenges: People are good informal arguers, they reason better in groups, and they have a confirmation bias. Finally, we consider possible extensions, first in terms of process-level theories of reasoning, and second in the effects of reasoning outside the lab.
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  31. [Book Chapter] (in Press).Gloria Origgi & Dan Sperber - 2000
  32. On Anthropological Knowledge.Dan Sperber - 1985 - Cambridge University Press.
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  33.  99
    The Mapping Between the Mental and the Public Lexicon.Dan Sperber & Deirdre Wilson - 1998 - In Peter Carruthers & Jill Boucher (eds.), [Book Chapter]. Cambridge University Press. pp. 184-200.
    We argue that the presence of a word in an utterance serves as starting point for a relevance guided inferential process that results in the construction of a contextually appropriate sense. The linguistically encoded sense of a word does not serve as its default interpretation. The cases where the contextually appropriate sense happens to be identical to this linguistic sense have no particular theoretical significance. We explore some of the consequences of this view. One of these consequences is that there (...)
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  34. IX—Loose Talk.Dan Sperber & Deirdre Wilson - 1985 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 86 (1):153-172.
  35. Rethinking Symbolism.Dan Sperber & Alice L. Morton - 1977 - Philosophy and Rhetoric 10 (4):281-282.
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  36.  70
    Seedless Grapes: Nature and Culture.Dan Sperber - 2007 - In Eric Margolis & Stephen Laurence (eds.), Creations of the Mind: Theories of Artifacts and Their Representaion. Oxford University Press. pp. 124--137.
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  37. Causal Cognition: A Multidisciplinary Debate.Dan Sperber, David Premack & Ann James Premack (eds.) - 1996 - Oxford University Press UK.
    An understanding of cause--effect relationships is fundamental to the study of cognition. In this book, outstanding specialists from comparative psychology, social psychology, developmental psychology, anthropology, and philosophy present the newest developments in the study of causal cognition and discuss their different perspectives. They reflect on the role and forms of causal knowledge, both in animal and human cognition, on the development of human causal cognition from infancy, and on the relationship between individual and cultural aspects of causal understanding. The result (...)
     
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  38.  86
    The Guru Effect.Dan Sperber - 2010 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1 (4):583-592.
    Obscurity of expression is considered a flaw. Not so, however, in the speech or writing of intellectual gurus. All too often, what readers do is judge profound what they have failed to grasp. Here I try to explain this guru effect by looking at the psychology of trust and interpretation, at the role of authority and argumentation, and at the effects of these dispositions and processes when they operate at a population level where, I argue, a runaway phenomenon of overappreciation (...)
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  39.  16
    Pragmatics.Dan Sperber & Deirdre Wilson - 1981 - Cognition 10 (1-3):281-286.
  40.  68
    The Why and How of Experimental Pragmatics: The Case of 'Scalar Inferences'.Dan Sperber - unknown
    Although a few pioneers in psycholinguistics had, for more than twenty years, approached various pragmatic issues experimentally, it is only in the past few years that investigators have begun employing the experimental method in testing pragmatic hypotheses. We see this emergence of a proper experimental pragmatics as an important advance with a great potential for further development. In this chapter we want to illustrate what can be done with experimental approaches to pragmatic issues by presenting one case, that of so-called (...)
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  41.  47
    Why Modeling Cultural Evolution Is Still Such a Challenge.Dan Sperber & Nicolas Claidière - 2006 - Biological Theory 1 (1):20-22.
  42. Defining and Explaining Culture (Comments on Richerson and Boyd, Not by Genes Alone).Dan Sperber & Nicolas Claidière - 2008 - Biology and Philosophy 23 (2):283-292.
    We argue that there is a continuum of cases without any demarcation between more individual and more cultural information, and that therefore “culture” should be viewed as a property that human mental representations and practices exhibit to a varying degree rather than as a type or a subclass of these representations and practices (or of “information”). We discuss the relative role of preservative and constructive processes in transmission. We suggest a revision of Richerson and Boyd’s classification of the forces of (...)
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  43. Understanding Verbal Understanding.Dan Sperber - 1994 - In Jean Khalfa (ed.), What is Intelligence? Cambridge University Press.
  44.  69
    Linguistic Form and Relevance.Deirdre Wilson & Dan Sperber - 1993 - Lingua 90:1-25.
    Our book Relevance (Sperber and Wilson 1986) treats utterance interpretation as a two-phase process: a modular decoding phase is seen as providing input to a central inferential phase in which a linguistically encoded logical form is contextually enriched and used to construct a hypothesis about the speaker's informative intention. Relevance was mainly concerned with the inferential phase of comprehension: we had to answer Fodor's challenge that while decoding processes are quite well understood, inferential processes are not only not understood, but (...)
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  45.  99
    Why a Deep Understanding of Cultural Evolution is Incompatible with Shallow Psychology.Dan Sperber - unknown
    Human, cognition, interaction, and culture are thoroughly intertwined. Without cognition and interaction, there would be no culture. Without culture, cognition and interaction would be very different affairs, as they are among other social species. The effect of culture on mental life has always been a main concern of the social sciences and, after a long period of almost total neglect, it is more and more taken into consideration in cognitive psychology. The effect of cognition, and in particular of the ability (...)
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  46. Pragmatics.Dan Sperber & Deirder Wilson - 2005 - In Frank Jackson & Michael Smith (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
     
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  47.  17
    Inept Reasoners or Pragmatic Virtuosos? Relevance and the Deontic Selection Task.Vittorio Girotto, Markus Kemmelmeier, Dan Sperber & Jean-Baptiste van der Henst - 2001 - Cognition 81 (2):B69-B76.
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  48. Loose Talk.Dan Sperber - 1986 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 86:153.
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  49.  32
    Kinship and Evolved Psychological Dispositions: The Mother's Brother Controversy Reconsidered (to Appear in Current Anthropology).Maurice Bloch & Dan Sperber - manuscript
    The article revisits the old controversy concerning the relation of the mother's brother and sister's son in patrilineal societies in the light both of anthropological criticisms of the very notion of kinship and of evolutionary and epidemiological approaches to culture. It argues that the ritualized patterns of behavior that had been discussed by Radcliffe-Brown, Goody and others are to be explained in terms of the interaction of a variety of factors, some local and historical, others pertaining to general human dispositions. (...)
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  50.  58
    Mood and the Analysis of Non-Declarative Sentences.Deirdre Wilson & Dan Sperber - 1988 - In J. Dancy, J. M. E. Moravcsik & C. C. W. Taylor (eds.), Human Agency: Language, Duty, and Value. Stanford University Press. pp. 77--101.
    How are non-declarative sentences understood? How do they differ semantically from their declarative counterparts? Answers to these questions once made direct appeal to the notion of illocutionary force. When they proved unsatisfactory, the fault was diagnosed as a failure to distinguish properly between mood and force. For some years now, efforts have been under way to develop a satisfactory account of the semantics of mood. In this paper, we consider the current achievements and future prospects of the mood-based semantic programme.
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