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

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  • Gricean pragmatic engine = Pandorra’s box
  • - advent of experimental paradigms
  • Which Rationality For Pragmatics6

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