Are there communicative intentions?
Grice in pragmatics and Levelt in psycholinguistics have proposed models of human communication where the starting point of communicative action is an individual intention. This assumption, though, has to face serious objections with regard to the alleged existence of explicit representations of the communicative goals to be pursued. Here evidence is surveyed which shows that in fact speaking may ordinarily be a quite automatic activity prompted by contextual cues and driven by behavioural schemata abstracted away from social regularities. On the one hand, this means that there could exist no intentions in the sense of explicit representations of communicative goals, following from deliberate reasoning and triggering the communicative action. On the other hand, however, there are reasons to allow for a weaker notion of intention than this, according to which communication is an intentional affair, after all. Communicative action is said to be intentional in this weaker sense to the extent that it is subject to a double mechanism of control, with respect both to present-directed and future-directed intentions.
Publication typeProceedings paper