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Pragmatics, Modularity and Mind-reading

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  • [Scco:Cogpsy] Cognitive Science/Cognitive Psychology
  • [Scco:Cogpsy] Science Cognitive/Psychologie Cognitive
  • [Shs:Langue:Pragmatics] Humanities And Social Sciences/Linguistics/Pragmatics
  • [Shs:Langue:Pragmatics] Sciences De L'Homme Et Société/Linguistique/Pragmatique
  • [Shs:Phil:Language] Humanities And Social Sciences/Philosophy/Philosophy Of Language
  • [Shs:Phil:Language] Sciences De L'Homme Et Société/Philosophie/Philosophie Du Langage
  • [Shs:Phil:Mind] Humanities And Social Sciences/Philosophy/Philosophy Of Mind
  • [Shs:Phil:Mind] Sciences De L'Homme Et Société/Philosophie/Philosophie De L'Esprit
  • Linguistic Communication
  • Theory Of Mind
  • Mind-Reading
  • Mindreading
  • Modularity
  • Evolutionary Psychology
  • Evolution Of Language
  • Linguistics
  • Philosophy Of Language
  • Pragmatics
  • Relevance
  • Relevance Theory
  • Communication


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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