Richard Moore (Max Planck Institut, Germany): 'Cognising communicative intent'

February 8, 2011 - 16:30 - 18:30
Zrinyi u. 14
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Richard Moore

Abstract: In this talk, I will draw attention to a largely unnoticed feature of communicative acts: the fact that they are often not single actions, but composite acts consisting of two parts, which are together sufficient for enacting Gricean intent. I call these parts content cues and ostensive cues. Whereas traditional accounts have held that only those capable of acting with and grasping fourth order meta-representations could cognise Gricean intentions, because of the functional division of labour performed by content and ostensive cues, in fact cognising communicative intent requires entertaining only a pair of second order meta-representations. This undercuts the ‘higher order thoughts’ objection to attributing a grasp of communicative intent to young children. I also argue that cognising communicative intent does not require the possession of a concept of belief, and I finish by considering whether non-human great apes might also produce and grasp communicative acts with a Gricean structure.