SOPhiA 2021

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Two perspectives on Theory of Mind and Pragmatics
(Philosophy of Mind, )

A Cognitive theories of verbal communication build on the assumption that language interpretation requires the Theory of Mind (ToM). Post-Gricean accounts, like Relevance Theory, developed the assumption in a modular view of the mind, by arguing that pragmatics is a sub-module of the ToM-module. Recently, the modular view of pragmatics has been questioned, both on empirical and theoretical grounds. This work takes a stance on the issue by making two original claims: (i) the present debate is vitiated by a "coarse formulation" of the modular hypothesis, (ii) the current state of the art allows to tackle the issue in a more empirically-informed way. To uphold these claims, I firstly spell out Relevance Theory's account of the link between ToM and pragmatics focusing on Sperber's theoretical tripartition of interpretative strategies. Then, I discuss two different perspectives through which the tripartition has been read: the developmental and the normative one. The developmental reading was proposed by Wilson to defend the modular hypothesis in the light of developmental data. In this regard, my claim is that Wilson's reading lacks empirical support. However, I argue that some data from developmental psychology could indeed support a "fine formulation" of the modular hypothesis, which I try to sketch. The normative reading is upheld by Kissine to integrate clinical data from individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder within an "anti-modular" approach to pragmatics. I argue that Kissine's reading fits well with recent data from experimental pragmatics. However, I maintain that while his model succeeds in ruling out the coarse formulation of the modular hypothesis, it loses ground against the fine one. Finally, I propose some advices for addressing the issue of modularity in pragmatics in a more empirically-informed way.

Chair: Daniel Weger
Time: 10:00-10:30, 10 September 2021 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.005
Remark: (Online Talk)

Edoardo Vaccargiu  
(University of Genoa, )

Testability and Meaning deco