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LINGUIST List 19.1547

Tue May 13 2008

Diss: Cognitive Sci/Pragmatics/Semantics: Assimakopoulos: 'Logical ...'

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        1.    Stavros Assimakopoulos, Logical Structure and Relevance


Message 1: Logical Structure and Relevance
Date: 13-May-2008
From: Stavros Assimakopoulos <stavrosling.ed.ac.uk>
Subject: Logical Structure and Relevance
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Institution: University of Edinburgh
Program: Centre for Cognitive Science
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2008

Author: Stavros Assimakopoulos

Dissertation Title: Logical Structure and Relevance

Dissertation URL: http://www.lel.ed.ac.uk/~stavros/Stavros%20Assimakopoulos%20-%20Thesis.pdf

Linguistic Field(s): Cognitive Science
                            Pragmatics
                            Semantics

Dissertation Director:
Caroline Heycock
Ronnie Cann

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis sets out to investigate relevance-theoretic pragmatics and its
contribution to the study of linguistic meaning from a mentalist outlook.
Adopting an internalist perspective with respect to the semantics of
language seems to create serious problems for traditional accounts, which
customarily seek to separate some common core of meaning from
contextualisation. Against this background, it is argued that the ways in
which an individual's mentally represented linguistic meanings are
pervasively affected by his system of beliefs can be realistically
addressed from a cognitive point of view through the implementation of the
proposals of Relevance Theory regarding the inferential processes involved
in the interpretation of utterances. In this setting, linguistic meaning is
always provided through inference against the context of utterance and the
need for a stable semantic content that is identical across individuals
largely evaporates. In pursuit of this argument, the existing account of
context within the relevance-theoretic framework is initially reviewed and
extended. Then, on the basis of current research on the human cognitive
capacity for metarepresentation and joint attention, it is suggested that
it is an innate predisposition which enables us to efficiently align our
contexts in instances of communication. In addition, it is argued that
these highly developed mind-reading abilities are partially responsible for
our natural tendency to develop an understanding of the world which closely
resembles that of our peers; a point further elucidated by reference to
Searle's notion of the Background. Finally, the semantics/pragmatics
distinction is readdressed from a cognitive perspective and a case is made
for the substitution of the externalist theory of semantic content with a
more psychologically plausible contextualist counterpart within Relevance
Theory itself.



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