UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 15 (2003)

New directions for research on pragmatics and modularity


This paper considers the relation between the pragmatic abilities used to interpret communicative behaviour and more general mind-reading abilities used to interpret ordinary actions. According to the classical Fodorian view (Fodor 1983), pragmatics and mindreading are central cognitive systems which are used to attribute mental states to others on the basis of general-purpose reasoning abilities. I will outline an alternative, relevancetheoretic account on which mind-reading is a dedicated inferential module, and pragmatics is a sub-module of the mind-reading module, with its own special-purpose principles and


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