, Volume 79, Supplement 4, pp 729–767 | Cite as

Pragmatic Reasoning About Unawareness

  • Michael FrankeEmail author
Original Article


Language use and interpretation is heavily contingent on context. But human interlocutors need not always agree what the actual context is. In game theoretic approaches to language use and interpretation, interlocutors’ beliefs about the context are the players’ beliefs about the game that they are playing. Together this entails that we need to consider cases in which interlocutors have different subjective conceptualizations of the game they are in. This paper therefore extends iterated best response reasoning, as an established model for pragmatic reasoning, to games with unawareness. This extension not only leads to more plausible context models for many communicative situations, but also to improved predictions for otherwise problematic cases and an extension of the scope of pragmatic phenomena that can be captured by game theoretic analysis.



I am heavily indebted to Tikitu de Jager for many heated and inspiring discussions about unawareness and its role in language. Many other colleagues have enriched my world with their sharp comments after hearing presentations of this material at Stanford, Tübingen, Paris, Amsterdam, esslli in Ljubljana and Tilburg. A grateful tip to the hat to all of you. The manuscript also benefitted from the help of two anonymous reviewers. Thanks finally to Alistair Isaac and Sven Lauer for their work, comments and encouragement.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Logic, Language and InformationUniversiteit van AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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