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Psychological Explanations in Gricean Pragmatics: An Argument from Cultural ‘Common Ground’. Kasia Jaszczolt University of Cambridge. Psychologism and post-Gricean pragmatics. Fregean logic > truth-conditional semantics > truth-conditional pragmatics

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psychological explanations in gricean pragmatics an argument from cultural common ground

Psychological Explanations in Gricean Pragmatics: An Argument from Cultural ‘Common Ground’

Kasia Jaszczolt

University of Cambridge

psychologism and post gricean pragmatics
Psychologism and post-Gricean pragmatics

Fregean logic > truth-conditional semantics > truth-conditional pragmatics

Does Frege’s ban on psychological explanations in logic extend to pragmatic theory?

slide3
Gottlob Frege

Grundlagen der Arithmetik (1884: 90):

‘[t]here must be a sharp separation of the psychological from the logical, the subjective from the objective’

Grundgesetze der Arithmetik (1893: 202):

  • ‘being true is quite different from being held as true’
  • ‘corrupting intrusion’ [of psychology on logic]
slide4
‘The description of the origin of an idea should not be taken for a definition, nor should the account of the mental and physical conditions for becoming aware of a proposition be taken for a proof (…). [A] proposition just as little ceases to be true when I am no longer thinking of it as the Sun is extinguished when I close my eyes.’ Frege (1884: 88)
frege s review of husserl s philosophy of arithmetic i
Frege’s review of Husserl’s Philosophy of Arithmetic I

‘If a geographer was given an oceanographic treatise to read which gave a psychological explanation of the origin of the oceans, he would undoubtedly get the impression that the author had missed the mark and shot past the thing itself in a most peculiar way. (…) Reading [Husserl’s] work has enabled me to gauge the extent of the devastation caused by the irruption of psychology into logic…’ Frege (1894: 209)

slide6
Q1: Should psychological explanations be present in definitions of what is said, truth-conditional content, explicature, etc?

Q2: Should the psychology of utterance processing be considered in the discussions of the boundary between semantics and pragmatics?

areas in which moderate psychologism is necessary
Areas in which (moderate) psychologism is necessary

[1] The selection of the perspective to be adopted: that of the speaker, the addressee, or a Model Speaker – Model Addressee interaction;

[2] The unit on which pragmatic inference or default enrichment operate;

[3] The definition and delimitation of automatic (default) interpretations vis-à-vis conscious pragmatic inference;

[4] The definition of the unit of analysis (Primary Meaning)

1 whose perspective
[1]: Whose perspective?

The theory of utterance meaning (meaningnn) is to account for the meanings the speakers normally convey and at the same time the meanings the addressees normally recover in the process of rational conversational interaction.

slide11
Model Speaker – Model Addressee perspective

Saul 2002, Co-existence Thesis: both the speaker and the addressee can be wrong about what is said.

Psychologism in [1]: 

slide12
Just as Frege, in Der Gedanke (1918-19), writes that the task of logic is not ‘investigating minds and contents of consciousness owned by individual men’, the task is ‘the investigation of the mind; of the mind, not of minds’ (p. 342), so a theory of meaningnn is the investigation of the utterance meaning; the meaning, not meanings for speakers or addressees.
2 the unit on which pragmatic inference default enrichment operate
[2]: The unit on which pragmatic inference/default enrichment operate

? ‘…hypotheses about meaning are entertained incrementally – as the words come in, as it were.’ Levinson (2000: 5).

= processing as explanandum (psychologism?)

slide14
I-heuristic:

‘What is expressed simply is stereotypically exemplified’

(1) bread knife +> knife used for cutting bread

kitchen knife +> knife used for preparing food, e.g. chopping

steel knife +> knife made of steel

slide15
(2) a secretary +> a female one

a road +> hard-surfaced one

I don’t like garlic. +> I dislike garlic.

? Cancellation problem:

(3) Some (+> ‘not all’), in fact all, of the boys came.

slide16
‘John’s book is good.’

? +> the one he read, wrote, borrowed…

Levinson (2000: 37)

vs. ‘Chomsky’s book is about grammar.’

We need a theory that construes pragmatic inference and defaults as operating on a unit that is adequate for the case at hand, ranging from a morpheme to the entire discourse.

slide17
Atlas (2006): against ‘armchair psychologising’ and in favour of ‘empirical psychology of sentence-processing’.

But: ‘psychologising’ must appear before empirical studies in order to identify the unit for experimental testing.

(cf. Recanati 2004 on automatic modulation)

Psychologism in [2]: 

3 automatic default interpretations vs conscious pragmatic inference
[3]: Automatic default interpretations vs. conscious pragmatic inference

Conscious or automatic?

‘Leonardo’s painting was stolen from Czartoryskis’ Museum in Kraków.’

‘Larry’s book is a thrilling account of negation.’

+ ‘bread/kitchen/steel knife’

slide19
A: So, is this your first film?

B: No, it’s my twenty second.

A: Any favourites among the twenty two?

B: Working with Leonardo.

A: da Vinci?

B: DiCaprio.

A: Of course. And is he your favourite Italian director?

(Richard Curtiss, Notting Hill, 1999)

slide20
‘We advertised for a new nanny.’

+> a female nanny

Situational context (used for conscious inference) or common ground (exploited in automatic, unreflective inference)?

+ level of specificity at which the default meaning ends

slide21
Arguments from psychology are needed in order to postulate a hypothesis on the demarcation between automatic and conscious interpretations as ‘food for experimentation’.

Psychologism in [3]: 

4 unit of analysis
[4]: Unit of analysis

Primary Meaning: what is intended by MS and recovered by MA as ‘the main message’

Q3: Should primary meaning obey the syntactic constraint?(cf. what is said, explicature)

Psychologism in [4]: 

slide23
Primary Meaning is the most salient meaning that can be assumed to be intended by the Model Speaker and recovered by the Model Addressee. It need not obey the syntactic constraint (cf. Sysoeva and Jaszczolt 2007)

(modelled as merger representations in Default Semantics, loosely modelled on DRSs of DRT, Kamp and Reyle 1993; Kamp and van Eijck 1997; Kamp, van Genabith and Reyle forthcoming)

slide24
I haven’t eaten.
  • I haven’t eaten lunch yet.
  • I am hungry.
devastation caused by the irruption of psychology into pragmatics g frege
‘devastation caused by the irruption of psychology into [pragmatics]’ (G. Frege)
  • The definitions of proposition, utterance meaning, default enrichment/modulation, pragmatic inference require a decision on the perspective: S, A, MS/MA;
  • This is a decision within the domain of the psychology of processing. It is not a decision as to whether to admit psychologism into pragmatic theory. S, A, MS/MA perspectives are all ‘contaminated’, albeit to different degrees (vs. Saul 2002, Co-Existence Thesis).
slide26
G. Frege, Logic (1897/1969: 250):

‘Logic is concerned with the laws of truth, not with the laws of holding something to be true, not with the question of how people think, but with the question of how they must think if they are not to miss the truth.’

slide27
Respected by truth-conditional semantics and post-Gricean pragmatics:

‘being true’ is ‘placeless and timeless’ (Frege 1893: 203)

Thoughts (Gedanken) (Frege 1918-19) are MS/MA meanings; they are not mental entities.

Neo-Fregean Thought when no syntactic constraint on Primary Meaning as in Default Semantics or late-Wittgensteinian Meaning Eliminativism (Recanati 2005).

conclusion
Conclusion

While Gricean theory of meaningnn respects Frege’s rejection of psychological explanations from logic, it must resort to psychology in choosing and defining the object of study of pragmatics.

further questions
Further questions

Q4: Does semantic minimalism (Cappelen and Lepore 2005, Borg 2004) respect Frege’s ban on psychologism?

A4: No, if it resorts to Propositionalism (Bach 2004, 2005, 2006). See Jaszczolt 2007.

slide30
Q5: Should we ban propositions in order to ban psychologism, or to retain propositions and admit some modest dose of psychologism?

A5: I argued for the latter because a proposition- free semantics that is properly formally constrained and compositional is for me inconceivable. Exorcising propositions means exorcising truth conditions, or placing them on the wrong side of the semantics/ pragmatics boundary.

select references
Select References

Atlas, J. D. 2006. ‘Remarks on F. Recanati’s Literal Meaning’. Manuscript.

Atlas, J. D. forthcoming. ‘Meaning, propositions, context, and semantical underdeterminacy’. In: G. Preyer (ed.). Essays on Insensitive Semantics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bach, K. 2004. ‘Minding the gap’. In: C. Bianchi (ed.). The Semantics/Pragmatics Distinction. Stanford: CSLI Publications. 27-43.

Bach, K. 2005. ‘Context ex Machina’. In: Z. G. Szabó (ed.). Semantics versus Pragmatics. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 15-44.

Bach, K. 2006. ‘The excluded middle: Semantic minimalism without minimal propositions’. Unpublished paper.

Borg, E. 2004. Minimal Semantics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cappelen, H. and E. Lepore. 2005a. Insensitive Semantics: a Defense of Semantic Minimalism and Speech Act Pluralism. Oxford: Blackwell.

slide32
Cappelen, H. and E. Lepore. 2005b. ‘A tall tale: In defense of Semantic Minimalism and Speech Act Pluralism’. In: G. Preyer and G. Peter (eds). Contextualism in Philosophy: Knowledge, Meaning, and Truth. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 197-219.

van Eijck, J. and H. Kamp. 1997. ‘Representing discourse in context’. In: J. van Benthem and A. ter Meulen (eds). Handbook of Logic and Language. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science. 179-237.

Frege, G. 1884. Die Grundlagen der Arithmetik, eine logisch mathematische Untersuchung über den Begriff der Zahl. Introduction. Breslau: W. Koebner. Transl. by M. Beaney in: M. Beaney (ed.). 1997. The Frege Reader. Oxford: Blackwell. 84-91.

Frege, G. 1893. Grundgesetze der Arithmetik. Vol. 1. Preface. Jena: H. Pohle. Transl. by M. Beaney in: M. Beaney (ed.). 1997. The Frege Reader. Oxford: Blackwell. 194-208.

Frege, G. 1894. Review of E. G. Husserl, Philosophie der Arithmetik I (Philosophy of Arithmetic I). Zeitschrift für Philosophie und philosophische Kritik 103. Transl. by H. Kaal in: G. Frege. 1984.

slide33
Collected Papers on Mathematics, Logic, and Philosophy ed. by B. McGuinness. Oxford: Blackwell. 195-209.

Frege, G. 1897/1969. Logic. In: 1969. Nachgelassene Schriften. Hamburg: Felix Meiner. Transl. by P. Long and R. White in: 1979. Posthumous Writings. Oxford: Blackwell. Sections 1 (‘Introduction’) and 2 (‘Separating a thought from its trappings’) reprinted in: M. Beaney (ed.). 1997. The Frege Reader. Oxford: Blackwell. 227-250.

Frege, G. 1906/1976. Letters to Husserl, 1906. In: 1976. Wissenschaftlicher Briefwechsel. Hamburg: Felix Meiner. Transl. by H. Kaal in: G. Frege. 1980. Philosophical and Mathematical Correspondence ed. by B. McGuinness. Oxford: Blackwell. 66-71. Reprinted in: M. Beaney (ed.). 1997. The Frege Reader. Oxford: Blackwell. 301-307.

Frege, G. 1918-19. ‘Der Gedanke’. Beiträge zur Philosophie des deutschen Idealismus I. Transl. as ‘Thoughts’ (Part I of Logical Investigations) by P. Geach and R. H. Stoothoff in: G. Frege. 1984. Collected Papers on Mathematics, Logic, and Philosophy

slide34
ed. by B. McGuinness. Oxford: Blackwell. Reprinted in: M. Beaney (ed.). 1997. The Frege Reader. Oxford: Blackwell. 325-345.

Giora, R. 2003. On Our Mind: Salience, Context, and Figurative Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jaszczolt, K. M. 2005. Default Semantics: Foundations of a Compositional Theory of Acts of Communication. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jaszczolt, K. M. 2006a. ‘Defaults in semantics and pragmatics’. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. E. N. Zalta. http://plato.stanford.edu/contents.html

Jaszczolt, K. M. 2006b. ‘Meaning merger: Pragmatic inference, defaults, and compositionality’. Intercultural Pragmatics 3.2. 195-212.

Jaszczolt, K. M. 2007. ‘On being post-Gricean’. In: R. A. Nilsen, N. A. A. Amfo and K. Borthen (eds). Interpreting Utterances: Pragmatics and Its Interfaces. Essays in Honour of Thorstein Fretheim. Oslo: Novus. 21-38.

slide35
Jaszczolt, K. M. forthcoming . ‘Semantics and pragmatics: The boundary issue’. In: K. von Heusinger, P. Portner and C. Maienborn. Semantics: An International Handbook of Natural Language Meaning. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Kamp, H., J. van Genabith and U. Reyle. forthcoming. ‘Discourse Representation Theory’. In: D.M. Gabbay and F. Guenthner (eds). Handbook of Philosophical Logic. Second edition.

Kamp, H. and U. Reyle. 1993. From Discourse to Logic: Introduction to Modeltheoretic Semantics of Natural Language, Formal Logic and Discourse Representation Theory. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

Katsos, N. 2007. ‘The semantics/pragmatics interface from an experimental perspective: The case of scalar implicature’. Manuscript.

Levinson, S. C. 2000. Presumptive Meanings: The Theory of GeneralizedConversational Implicature. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Noveck, I. A. and D. Sperber (eds). 2004. Experimental Pragmatics. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

slide36
Recanati, F. 2004. Literal Meaning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Recanati, F. 2005. ‘Literalism and contextualism: Some varieties’. In: G. Preyer and G. Peter (eds). Contextualism in Philosophy: Knowledge, Meaning, and Truth. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 171-196.

Saul, J. M. 2002. ‘What is said and psychological reality; Grice’s project and relevance theorists’ criticisms’. Linguistics and Philosophy 25. 347-372.

Sysoeva, A. and K. Jaszczolt. 2007. ‘Composing utterance meaning: An interface between pragmatics and psychology’. Paper presented at the 10th International Pragmatics Conference, Göteborg, 10 July 2007.

Veltman, F. 1996. ‘Defaults in update semantics’. Journal of Philosophical Logic 25. 221-261.

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