From Perception to Communication: a Theory of Types for Action and Meaning

As we interact with the world and with each other we need to classify objects and situations, that is, we need to make judgements about what types of objects and situations we are confronted with. This is an important part of what is involved in planning the future actions we should carry out and how we should coordinate with other agents in carrying out collaborative actions. This is true of action in general, including linguistic action. This classification needs to be multimodal in that we need to classify what we experience through different senses and be able to combine the information in order to come to a judgement. The aim of this book is to characterize a notion of type which will cover both linguistic and non-linguistic action and to lay the foundations for a theory of action based on these types. We will argue that a theory of language based on action allows us to take a perspective on linguistic content which is centered on interaction in dialogue and that this is importantly different to the traditional view of natural languages as being essentially similar to formal languages such as logics developed by philosophers or mathematicians. At the same time we will argue that the tremendous technical advances made by the formal language view of semantics can be incorporated into the action-based view and that this can lead to important improvements both of intuitive understanding and empirical coverage. In this enterprise we use types rather than possible worlds as commonly employed in studies of the semantics of natural language. Types as more tractable than possible worlds and give us more hope of understanding the implementation of semantics both on machines and in biological brains.
Research areas:
Type of Publication:
Oxford University Press
Hits: 97