, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 403-421
Date: 16 Aug 2007

Meaning and Dialogue Coherence: A Proof-theoretic Investigation

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Abstract

This paper presents a novel proof-theoretic account of dialogue coherence. It focuses on an abstract class of cooperative information-oriented dialogues and describes how their structure can be accounted for in terms of a multi-agent hybrid inference system that combines natural deduction with information transfer and observation. We show how certain dialogue structures arise out of the interplay between the inferential roles of logical connectives (i.e., sentence semantics), a rule for transferring information between agents, and a rule for information flow between agents and their environment. The order of explanation is opposite in direction to that adopted in game-theoretic semantics, where sentence semantics (or a notion of valid inference) is derived from winning dialogue strategies. That approach and the current one may, however, be reconcilable, since we focus on cooperative dialogue, whereas the game-theoretic tradition concentrates on adversarial dialogue.

An erratum to this article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10849-008-9069-2