SOPhiA 2019

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

From mutual knowledge to relational knowledge
(Philosophy of Language, English)

In this talk, I would criticize the notion of mutual knowledge in pragmatics. The main critic will be that mutual knowledge does not guarantee that a conversation must take place in order to guarantee of (mutual) knowledge. Case in point: How does speaker A know that speaker B knows that p (and so on)? Even though mutual knowledge resignifies context as dynamic and cognitive, it holds the phenomenon as if it were solipsist: speaker A solely relies on his /her own mental states about his/her knowledge of speaker B cognitive-states (vices versa) without requiring a conversational intercourse with speaker B. Therefore, the question to be addressed is how this is possible at all and whether an early stage is required.

My proposal is that relational knowledge resolves this inconvenience. It builds up the bedrock for mutual knowledge and relies on conversational tools. What is with 'relational knowledge' meant? Provisional definition: interlocutors' actual cognitive states fudge together in a conversation when being expressed by means of linguistic tools.

The main argument would run as follows: (i) interlocutors make utterances by means of linguistics tools (e.g. indexical expressions, audience design tools). (ii) Within conversations, the speaker makes an effort to help the hearer construct a coherent representation of the speaker's contribution. (iii) Speaker uses additional tools so as to state as clearly as possible what he/she intended to mean, e.g. adjacency pairs, expansion and repair; and to figure out, what the actual cognitive state of the hearer is. (Here I will lead back to conversational analysis). These tools are interpreted as the place were both cognitive states meet and interrelate. (iv) Interlocutors reckon what the other knows in a conversation thanks to the aforementioned tools. Therefore, the speaker's knowledge of hearer's cognitive state (and vice versa) is gained by means of relating both bits of knowledge in a conversational transaction.

How does this avoid the problem ascribed to mutual knowledge? Since linguistic tools are employed as vehicles to point out what interlocutors' cognitive states are, they create a "neutral" zone in a conversation were both participants become mutually aware of what the other knows. Thus, relational knowledge seems to avoid the problem of conversational solipsism.


Chair: Aglaia Anna Marlene von Götz
Time: 14:00-14:30, 20 September 2019 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.006

Jose Martinez 
(Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany)



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