"Signs, Signs, Everywhere are Signs": Extended Encultured Cognition and Implicature Calculation

Charles Lassiter, Fordham University


This dissertation explores how hearers figure out what a speaker means but does not literally say. The externalist account I develop claims that language use is primarily a form of communal interaction. We navigate social environments by responding to externally located social cues. The standard, internalist picture of how we figure out what is meant but unsaid holds that hearers first perceive utterances, then perform mental machinations on the thoughts representing the utterances, and finally infer what the speaker must have meant. The internalist picture entails that the reasons communicative agents have for connecting the utterance with what is meant is locked up inside the individual agents. The internalist paints a counterintuitive picture of communication: successful communication is a matter of luck since whatever you mean by what you say is inaccessible to me. It's merely lucky that I landed on the meaning you intended for me to land on for our conversation roll on. My externalist account avoids this problem by moving information used in social interactions to the external, shared social world.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Lassiter, Charles, ""Signs, Signs, Everywhere are Signs": Extended Encultured Cognition and Implicature Calculation" (2013). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3564912.