In this talk, I present an evolutionary challenge to a widely accepted cognitivist account of communication growing out of the work of H.P. Grice. This evolutionary challenge, as I shall develop it, turns on both comparative data on animal communication systems and on the kinds of selective pressures that would drive a population of agents to be capable of what Grice calls SPEAKER MEANING. In the first half of the talk, I argue that this challenge is serious—affecting Grice’s original 1957 position, as well as subsequent refinements on Grice’s ideas such as the Relevance Theoretic framework of Deidre Wilson and Dan Sperber as well as the pragmatic framework of Robert Stalnaker. In the second half of the talk, I argue that the challenge is nonetheless surmountable. In particular, I develop a perspective on communication that centers on a primitive socio-cognitive relation that I call REPRESENTATIONAL COORDINATION. I argue that this socio-cognitive relation is well suited to understand the origins of communication in a psychologically distinctive sense, and I explore the ways in which the mechanisms supporting this relation have proliferated and changed over time.

 

 

Venue

Steele Building (03)
Room: 
262

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