A Coding Conception of Action-Directed Pragmatics


Igal Kvart A Coding Conception in Action-Directed-Pragmatics I present formal Pragmatics for a domain in Pragmatics that I call Action-Directed Pragmatics, which focuses on the Pragmatic riddle of how implicit contents are conveyed and understood, by adopting a coding model, in which the speaker and addressee simulate each other iteratively in a deliberative context (an ‘action-pregnant’ one). The implicit content, conveyed by a speaker and decoded by her addressee, in such cases, consists in the specified steered-to action, plus modulations on the action-polarity (pro or con) and the degree of the so-called Steering Thrust that accompanies such assertions and is conveyed by verbal locutions, intonation, and/or bodily and facial gestures. There are two main tasks to model (in a given setup and conversational context): First, how is the speaker, with a steered-to action in mind (and Steering Thrust), to select an assertion so as to (say) optimize the successful transmission and decoding of its implicit pragmatic content by her and her addressee? Second, how does the addressee, given an assertion by the speaker, decipher the implicit pragmatic content conveyed via it? Both will invoke pertinent information they have about each other and the setup/context in order to best encode and best decode the implicit pragmatic content. (This coding mechanism proposed here is not offered for the ubiquitous ‘frozen’, ‘trivial’ or ‘routinized’ pragmatic messages.) A prelude to this formal Pragmatics is a general formal Pragmatic account of Assertibility in contexts that are multi-normative (which is the common case). I focus here only on Epistemic/Semantic and Instrumental Norms. A linear representation of degrees of Overall Assertibility (i.e., taking into account various operative norms) will be an n-dimensional qualitative vector space with a function that computes them given different degrees of sub-normative Assertibility on each axis.

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Igal Kvart
Hebrew University of Jerusalem


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