Review of Philosophy and Psychology

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 69–97 | Cite as

Meaning and Demonstration

  • Matthew StoneEmail author
  • Una Stojnic


In demonstration, speakers use real-world activity both for its practical effects and to help make their points. The demonstrations of origami mathematics, for example, reconfigure pieces of paper by folding, while simultaneously allowing their author to signal geometric inferences. Demonstration challenges us to explain how practical actions can get such precise significance and how this meaning compares with that of other representations. In this paper, we propose an explanation inspired by David Lewis’s characterizations of coordination and scorekeeping in conversation. In particular, we argue that words, gestures, diagrams and demonstrations can function together as integrated ensembles that contribute to conversation, because interlocutors use them in parallel ways to coordinate updates to the conversational record.


Living Room Propositional Content Practical Action Straight Edge Pythagorean Theorem 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was supported in part by NSF IIS-1017811. Preliminary versions have been presented at colloquia and UCLA, CUNY, Edinburgh and Rutgers, and in talks at the Amsterdam Colloquium–Semdial joint session and the Rutgers–Jagiellonian Conference on Cognitive Science. This presentation benefits from comments from audiences there, from Sam Cumming, Doug DeCarlo, Eileen Kowler and Rochel Gelman, and the referees of this issue, and particularly from extensive discussion with Gabe Greenberg and Ernie Lepore.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Computer Science & Cognitive ScienceRutgers UniversityPiscatawayUSA
  2. 2.Philosophy & Cognitive ScienceRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

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