Communication and shared information
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Strawson style counterexamples to Grice’s account of communication show that a communicative intention has to be overt. Saying what overtness consists in has proven to be difficult for Gricean accounts. In this paper, I show that a common explanation of overtness, one that construes it in terms of a network of shared beliefs or knowledge, is mistaken. I offer an alternative, collectivist, model of communication. This model takes the utterer’s communicative intention to be a we-intention, a kind of intention with a distinctive content that cannot be reduced to an intention in favor of an individual action. I show that the collectivist model can explain overtness in terms of a general feature of we-intentions, namely the requirement that the participants in a shared activity are to intend to act in accordance with meshing subplans.
KeywordsCommunication Overtness Shared intention We-intention Common knowledge Mutual manifestness
I would like to thank Michael Bratman, Gary Ebbs, Mark Kaplan, Karen Lewis, Matthew Stone, Steven Wagner, Joan Weiner, and an anonymous referee for this journal for helpful comments. I owe special thanks to Kirk Ludwig for discussions and written comments on multiple versions of this paper. I developed large parts of the critical portion of this paper at the International Summer School in Cognitive Sciences and Semantics in Riga, July 2012. My work there benefited from various conversations with the participants.
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