, Volume 183, Issue 1 Supplement, pp 33-58
Date: 11 Oct 2011

Dialogue structure and logical expressivism

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Abstract

This paper aims to develop the implications of logical expressivism for a theory of dialogue coherence. I proceed in three steps. Firstly, certain structural properties of cooperative dialogue are identified. Secondly, I describe a variant of the multi-agent natural deduction calculus that I introduced in Piwek (J Logic Lang Inf 16(4):403–421, 2007) and demonstrate how it accounts for the aforementioned structures. Thirdly, I examine how the aforementioned system can be used to formalise an expressivist account of logical vocabulary that is inspired by Brandom (Making it explicit: reasoning, representing, and discursive commitment, 1994; Articulating reasons: an introduction to inferentialism, 2000). This account conceives of the logical vocabulary as a tool which allows speakers to describe the inferential practices which underlie their language use, i.e., it allows them to make those practices explicit. The rewards of this exercise are twofold: (1) We obtain a more precise account of logical expressivism which can be defended more effectively against the critique that such accounts lead to cultural relativism. (2) The formalised distinction between engaging in a practice and expressing it, opens the way for a revision of the theory of dialogue coherence. This revision eliminates the need for logically complex formulae to account for certain structural properties of cooperative dialogue.