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Pragmatics and Cognitive Science

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Napoleon Katsos.

ABSTRACT : One of the most exciting developments in research on pragmatics in the last twenty years has been the opening up of theoretical issues to experimental investigation. Alongside traditional psycholinguistic work on the mechanisms underlying broadly pragmatic processes such as disambiguation, reference resolution, the interpretation of indirect speech acts, implicatures, metaphor, irony, etc., we find a growing body of experimental work specifically designed to test competing theoretical pragmatic accounts of these and other pragmatic processes. Much of this work has involved collaboration among theoretical pragmatists/philosophers and cognitive scientists. However, collaborative work of this type is still in its infancy, and the coverage of theoretical issues remains rather patchy. In this talk, I will discuss a few cases where collaboration between theoretical pragmatists and cognitive scientists has been of real benefit, a few where the lack of collaboration has been a hindrance (in both directions), and a few which seem plausible candidates for future research. I will end with some thoughts on how ‘pragmatics’ is understood in work of this type.

Noveck, I. & Sperber, D. 2004. Experimental Pragmatics. Palgrave, London.

Sperber, D. & Wilson, D. 2005. Pragmatics. In F. Jackson & M. Smith (eds) Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Analytic Philosophy. OUP , Oxford. 468-501.

This talk is part of the CILR workshop: Pragmatics in interfaces series.

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