21 March: Tillmann Vierkant

Communication or control? The role of expressive behaviours in Non-Gricean routes to language evolution

Tillmann Vierkant (Edinburgh)

Tuesday 7 February 2017, 11:00–12:00
1.17 Dugald Stewart Building

Orthodoxy has it that language evolution requires Gricean communicative intentions and therefore an understanding of nested metarepresentations. The problem with the orthodoxy is that it is hard to see how non-linguistic creatures could have such a sophisticated understanding of mentality. Philosophers like Bar-On (2013) have therefore recently attempted to develop a non-Gricean account of language acquisition building on the information-rich and subtle communicative powers of expressive behaviours. This paper aims to sketch an alternative (additional) account of why expressive behaviours might be crucial in language evolution. On this account, expressive behaviours are important because not only because of their role in animal communication but because they are enablers of early forms of mindshaping.