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Cooperation and pragmatic inferences

Dulcinati, Giulio; (2018) Cooperation and pragmatic inferences. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis investigates the role of cooperation for pragmatic inferences. The notion of cooperation that is proposed as relevant for discussing the relationship between cooperation and communication is that of joint action. Different theories of communication are reviewed together with the different roles that they assign to cooperation in the context of communication. The study of communication in non-cooperative contexts is used as a way to inform the role of cooperation in communication. Different predictions are derived from Grice’s (1989) account and Sperber and Wilson’s accounts (Sperber & Wilson, 1986/1995; Sperber et al. 2010) regarding what happens to implicatures in non-cooperative contexts. A series of experimental studies investigates communication in non-cooperative contexts and tests the prediction derived from Grice’s account that hearers will not derive implicatures from the utterances of uncooperative speakers. Overall, the results of these studies are not in support of Grice’s prediction. They instead support the view that because of a dissociation between comprehension and epistemic acceptance of communicated content (Sperber et al., 2010; Mazzarella, 2015a) uncooperative contexts do not affect the inference of implicatures but only the acceptance of their content. Lastly, this thesis touches on the topic of the source of relevance for an utterance, which is treated as a theory neutral notion corresponding to what different theories formalise as the Question Under Discussion (Roberts, 1996/2012) or the shared purpose of interlocutors (Grice, 1989). The results of an experimental study on this topic suggest that the exhaustivity of an utterance as an answer to the possible QUDs in a context affects the choice of which QUDs the utterance will be taken to be addressing. Ultimately, this thesis provides initial experimental evidence on how cooperation (or lack thereof) affects pragmatic inferences and puts forward a novel experimental approach to this line of research.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Cooperation and pragmatic inferences
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10053950
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