Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft Leibniz-Gemeinschaft



SPAGAD Lecture Series: Why Communicative Intentions?

Vortragende(r) Daniel Harris
Institution(en) Hunter College & CUNY Graduate Center
Datum 26.05.2023, 16:00-17:30 Uhr
Uhrzeit 16:00 Uhr
Ort Online (see below)
Link to SPAGAD Lecture Series

Commentary      Josh Armstrong, University of California at Los Angeles

Link to YouTube video of the talk



According to a theory originating in the work of Grice, to perform a communicative act is to intentionally attempt to reveal an intention to alter one’s addressee’s state of mind. I agree. But I don’t think that Grice did a good job of justifying this view with his use of conceptual analysis. And although I think that Grice told us something important about how humans communicate, he didn’t tell us enough about why we do it in this way. What do we accomplish by revealing our intentions to others that we couldn’t have managed in some less cognitively demanding way? I will argue that we can find answers to this question if we focus on the roles that communicative intentions play in our capacity to customize what we say and how we say it for addressees, and in the joint plans that we use to organize and facilitate communicative exchanges. Both of these activities combine our capacities for planning and mindreading in ways that greatly increase the efficiency and expressive power of human communication, and that make possible communicatively valuable features of natural language.