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Which Rationality For Pragmatics6

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2007. Introduction to the panel 'Pragmatic Interfaces' organised by the authors at the International Pragmatics Conference (IPRA) in Goteborg (Sweden), July 2007. Didier Maillat and Louis de Saussure

2007. Introduction to the panel 'Pragmatic Interfaces' organised by the authors at the International Pragmatics Conference (IPRA) in Goteborg (Sweden), July 2007. Didier Maillat and Louis de Saussure

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  • Gricean pragmatic engine = Pandorra’s box
  • - advent of experimental paradigms
  • Transcript

    • 1. Which rationality for pragmatics? IPrA 2007 – Göteborg, 12 July 2007 – Panel on ‘Pragmatic Interfaces' Didier Maillat, University of Fribourg Louis de Saussure, University of Neuchâtel
    • 2. Introduction: interfaces for pragmatic processing
      • Interfaces are traditionally elaborated between separate levels of information processing: syntax/semantics; semantics/pragmatics
        • Level’s autonomy + input-output schemes
      • Look at interfaces differently: bring together hypotheses on the same general topic by different
        • a) trends
          • Within the sciences of language
        • b) scientific domains
          • Linguistics – neurology – cognitive science – philosophy of mind
    • 3. Rationality as the central problem requiring interfaces
      • Rationality
        • 1) as a psychological problem grounding language processing
          • as a central fodorian system; as a set of specialized interconnected modules without central system (Sperber); as a set of modules with softer specialization (Jaszczolt)…
          • Partly automatic-unconscious, partly reflexive-conscious
          • Different or identical for meaning-recovery and other automatic mental tasks
        • 2) as a philosophical issue explaining a goal-oriented mental activity governed by a set of principles
          • As automatic inferential procedures for uncovering intentions (Grice and after); as automatic stimulus-response schemes for mutual adaptation (post-Austinian interactionnism, radical behaviourism...)
    • 4. Grice and rationality
      • "[T]he philosophical foundations on which Grice's theory of conversational implicature rests is a general theory of rational action. (Kasher 1991: 577)
    • 5. Reasoning with Grice
      • Frege’s claim
        • Components of meaning are not addressable by propositional logic
        • Formal logic vs natural (cognitive) logic?
      • Grice’s claim
        • Standard propositional logic can serve as a logic of conversation with conventional premises involved
          • Conventional rules and patterns of reasoning
          • Aim: generating hypotheses about speaker intentional meaning
          • Questions raised: Type of reasoning? Type of premises involved?
          • Criticisms by RT: number of maxims, ad infinitum regression
          • What can count now as validated by further research?
    • 6. Reasoning after Grice
      • There’s more than said and implicated :
        • explicatures, implicitures, unarticulated (but explicit) constituents, free and constrained enrichments, weak implicatures (manifest but not conscious)…
        • No consensus on the boundary between primary and secondary unarticulated meaning constituents.
        • Raises the question on the possibility of several levels of reasoning and of enrichment procedures
      • Debate on early or late context-dependency, and early or late implicature derivation (sequential vs parallel procedures)
        • Influence of psycholinguistics
    • 7. Implicitures, standardization and default heuristics
      • Bach / Harnish / Garrett
        • Multiple truth-conditional semantic meanings (and no conventional implicatures)
        • Debate with RT on the propositional nature of semantic primary elements of meaning (implicitures) / Thoughts are expressible by linguistic material
        • Intention recovery involves a game of coordination in a strategic interaction and not an ordinary cognitive process (Bach)
        • Implicitures are built-up through standardized schemes of inference (standardization) or through general background knowledge (default heuristics)
    • 8. Truth-conditional pragmatics
      • All enrichments are not dependent upon the linguistic material but some are due to pragmatic principles of enrichment / adjustment (shared by RT)
      • But secondary enrichments presuppose full identification of primary enrichments (context-independant salient parts of meaning) (shared by many)
    • 9. Relevance Theory
      • Sperber & Wilson / Carston and the RT trend
        • Early context-dependency and parallel « mutual » adjustment
        • linguistic material resemble thoughts ( vs. Bach, vs. canonical Searle)
        • Heuristic risky principle (relevance-searching) based on an innate ability
        • Strong cognitive assumptions on a standard least-effort path, on natural reasoning. Understanding linguistic stimuli is not qualitatively different from other types of information processing.
    • 10. Reasoning: cognitive and formal models
      • RT Sperber (modularité massive)
      • Jaszczolt (modularité décloisonnée)
      • DRT
      • AI (quality R)
      • Asher / Lascarides (SDRT)
    • 11. Recurrent issues for pragmatic rationality
      • the rationality principles governing this inferential machine must address some specific problems as shown in the AI literature (as discussed in Cummings 2005):
        • properties of the input domain of rational inferencing (database):
          • inconsistent
          • incomplete
          • potentially infinite
          • encapsulated information
        • properties of the output:
          • cancellability
          • detachability
        • properties of the interface:
          • compositionality
        • properties of the inferential engine/principle
          • how do you stop it?
          • in AI’s terms, what is the goal?
    • 12. Presumptive Meanings
      • Levinson (2000)
      • three heuristics governing inferential calculation (see also Horn 1984):
        • Q: what isn’t said isn’t
        • I: minimal specifications get maximally informative stereotypical interpretations
        • M: what is said in an abnormal way isn’t normal
      • links GCIs to default interpretations which can be overriden
        • addresses cancellability
        • alternative to a form of rationality which is goal-oriented processes
      • pre-propositional
        • escapes the derivational constraint
    • 13. Default Semantics
      • Jaszczolt (2005)
      • merger representations or acts of communication combine:
        • WS: derivational material
        • CPI: inferential material (conscious)
        • CD: cognitive defaults (unconscious)
        • SCD: shared socio-cultural background knowledge (unconscious defaults)
      • avoids interface-related issues
      • truly multi-domain
        • must assume an extended compositionality (metacompositionality)
        • addresses detachability
        • overrides encapsulation
      • distinction between conscious and unconscious inferential processes
        • defaults dispense with goal-oriented rationality
    • 14. Discourse Representations
      • DRT Kamp & Reyle (1993) and SDRT Asher & Lascarides (2003)
      • based on a context-change-potential approach
      • retains the secondary nature of pragmatics
        • maintains strong compositionality
      • domain is strongly constrained by the linguistic input/derivation
        • background knowledge is mentioned (K0)
      • procedural algorithms make predictions about online processing
      • SDRT introduces a non-monotonic logic
        • addresses cancellability
    • 15. RT again
      • Sperber & Wilson, Carston
      • maximally encompassing domain (variety of inputs)
      • optimal relevance provides a qualitative upper-bound to the inferential process
        • few pragmatic (rational) principles are constrained
      • model assumes some level of neurological adequacy
        • experimental testability
    • 16. The massive modularity hypothesis
      • Domain-specific mechanisms / modules
        • An important argument against Fodor’s central system: it’s implausible that some autonomous mental system has unrestricted access to all information.
        • Fodor: cognition is not computational because it is incompatible with mental problems that are not modular (in particular requiring abductive ability)
        • Sperber: cognition requires rather a deductive-non-demonstrative ability based on salience and relevance searching, which makes it compatible with a massive modularity evolutionnist view
      • Anything here related to language understanding?
        • Yes: consequences for the economy of understanding together with a module dedicated to intention detection
    • 17. Rationality, MM, and RT
      • Sperber 2005 questions the very nature of pragmatic rationality
      • suggestion:
        • the two founding principles of RT’s rationality (effort and effect) are given a physiological explanation
          • non-representational
          • non-cognitive
      • principle of optimal relevance reflects an evolved faculty of the brain to optimise resource allocation based on neurological activation pattern recognition.
      • see Damasio’s analysis of intentionality as a property of brain cells (1999)
    • 18. Impact of the experimental paradigm
      • EXP PRAG Noveck Sperber … (scalar)
      • Jaszczolt
      • Harnish / Garrett
      • Breheny – Katsos (scalar)
        • contestent la méthodologie de Noveck: certains temps de réponse sont non utilisables pour le « coût ».
        • Scalar Imp: le coût online n’est pas associé avec la SI mais avec les opération des discours générées une fois que la SI a été générée
    • 19. Experimental paradigms
      • provides a psychological grounding for models of pragmatic rationality
      • measuring the cost of a rational inferential process
      • raise some new questions:
        • what are the relevant variables?
          • brain activation (MRI), reaction/reading time, eye-tracking, truth-value judgments, sentence completion
        • what are the factors?
          • debate on reaction time as an indicator of generation + cancellation vs. no generation
      • experimental designs can test the validity of predictions made by theoretical models Breheny, Katzos & Williams (2005), Noveck and colleagues
        • context dependence on scalar GCIs is inconsistent with default-based accounts; processing does not distinguish GCIs from PCIs
        • manipulating triggering conditions and licensing contexts: pragmatic or contextualist models are consistent with findings on SIs (vs. structural or derivational models)
        • evidence against re-analysis taken to be incompatible with encapsulated grammatical information
    • 20. Experimental pragmatics in Relevance theory
      • Noveck: scalar implicatures are derived successfully only after the acquisition of general pragmatic / mindreading abilities (6-8 years)
      • Van der Henst: testing the principle of relevance
        • The experiment of the numbered series
        • Measuring reinterpretation (with or in exclusive and inclusive readings)
      • A background in cognitive psychology (notably works on Autism by Baron-Cohen and the mindreading module )
      • A picture of cognitive pragmatic abilities that is congruent with RT’s prediction:
        • fast but risky
        • Using a specific mental mindreading module
        • Pragmatic processing is not reducible to decoding
    • 21. Harnish-Garrett
      • A neurological hypothesis: right-hemisphere specialization for pragmatic processes and / or complex information processing
        • Pragmatic processing would not imply precisely other mental devices than complex information processing in general
        • Pragmatics shows close to linguistics / decoding
    • 22. Some relevant questions
      • “ Natural reasoning often deviates from the norms of a correct reasoning (…)” Pragmatics require an account of the “wide range of ways of extending our knowledge that cannot be handled by formal logic alone” (Dascal 2005).
        • What’s logic with regard to natural problem-solving processes?
      • Where is (and is there) the boundary between types of contents?
      • How can we account precisely for the procedurality of meaning construction, so that precise linguistic phenomena can be enlightened by higher-level philosophical claims about cognition?
      • Is there a link, which could be expressed technically, between implicature derivation by a hearer and the generation of a new speech act?
        • Are the reasoning scheme we are talking about able to explain also at least some determination at the level of speech production / and pragmatic felicity (Allott)?

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