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Understanding EventsFrom Perception to Action$
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Thomas F. Shipley and Jeffrey M. Zacks

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195188370

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195188370.001.0001

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Pragmatics of Human Action

Pragmatics of Human Action

(p.96) 5 Pragmatics of Human Action
Understanding Events

Dare Baldwin

Jeffery Loucks

Mark Sabbagh

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents novel ideas about one set of possible constraining forces that guide inferences about others' intentions and goals. In particular, it proposes that action processing is guided in part by rationality assumptions akin to Grice's pragmatic principles. It begins by laying the conceptual groundwork for the proposal, which involves considering, in general terms, why such a proposal is warranted, and then reviewing the core elements of Grice's account of the pragmatics of communication. It suggests ways in which a novel twist on the Gricean account makes it possible to extend the analysis in meaningful ways to a so-called “simple action” — that is, action that is directed toward achieving concrete causal effects in the world. Although communicative action and simple action differ along a variety of dimensions, it is argued that analogous pragmatic phenomena can be identified in each. Specific ways in which the Grice-inspired proposal can account for inferences about others' simple actions are outlined, and evidence supporting the proposal's plausibility is considered.

Keywords:   inferences, action processing, Grice, pragmatic principles, simple actions, communicative action

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