This workshop aims to introduce those in linguistic, philosophy, and psychology to Bayesian approaches to pragmatic inference, to provide a forum for discussion of foundational and methodological issues, and to present cutting-edge research to an interdisciplinary audience.
Please contact the organizer, Daniel Rothschild, if you have any questions.
All speaking events will take place in Chandler House, G15, UCL.
This workshop is free and open to all, but if you plan to attend please register here.
Leon Bergen, University of California, San Diego
Ulrike Hahn, Birkbeck College
Benjamin Spector, Institut Jean-Nicod
DAY 1: THURSDAY, 20 SEPTEMBER
10:00 - 12:00 Leon Bergen, Tutorial Introduction
14:00 - 15:00 Ulrike Hahn, Is There Such a Thing as “Bayesian Pragmatics”?
16:00 - 17:00 Benjamin Spector, Assessing the role of priors in pragmatic reasoning within the RSA model
DAY 2: FRIDAY, 21 SEPTEMBER
10:00 - 11:00 Leon Bergen, A pragmatic theory of focus interpretation
Abstract: Noise is normally regarded as a challenge for effective communication. In this talk, I will consider an alternative perspective on noise: under certain conditions, it can allow speakers to communicate more effectively than would be possible in its absence. I will use this idea to provide a pragmatic account of the interpretive effects of focus, as in 3) and 4):
3) ALICE went to the store.
4) Bob only introduced BILL to Sue.
Traditional accounts (Rooth, 1985, 1992; von Stechow, 1990; Krifka, 1992) interpret focus by augmenting the semantics, e.g., by recursively computing a set of alternatives. Under the proposed account, focus itself does not have any semantic content. Instead, it reduces the noise rate on a portion of the utterance. The interpretive effects of focus arise from recursive pragmatic reasoning about this noise reduction, with the listener trying to infer the speaker’s motives for this reduction, and the speaker exploiting this reasoning. This approach derives many of the interpretive effects of focus, including exhaustification, association with focus, contrastive stress, intensification, and others. The detailed derivations expose the different types of commonsense reasoning that underly these different interpretive effects.
Sponsored by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council Grants AH/N001877/1 and AH/M009602/1. Image: Lucia and László Moholy-Nagy, around 1923. Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin / © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016.