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## What is a communicative action?

What is a communicative action?

First approximation: An action done with an intention to provide someone with evidence of an intention with the further intention of thereby fulfilling that intention

(compare Grice 1989: chapter 14)

Hare & Tomasello, 2004

‘to understand pointing, the subject needs to understand more than the individual goal-directed behaviour. She needs to understand that by pointing towards a location, the other attempts to communicate to her where a desired object is located’

Moll & Tomasello, 2007 p. 6

Let’s try to apply this idea to our pointing study ...
What is the confederate doing if she's pointing to inform?

First approximation: An action done with an intention to provide someone with evidence of an intention with the further intention of thereby fulfilling that intention

(compare Grice 1989: chapter 14)

Recall the comprehension of pointing case; what is the confederate doing if she's pointing to inform?

The confederate means something in pointing at the left box if she intends:

\begin{enumerate}
1. \item that you open the left box;
2. \item that you recognize that she intends (1), that you open the left box; and
3. \item that your recognition that she intends (1) will be among your reasons for opening the left box.
\end{enumerate}

(Compare Grice, 1967 p. 151; Neale, 1992 p. 544)

So to mean something by pointing, you have to have to have an intention about my recognition of an intention of yours concerning my reasons.
An inconsistent tetrad \begin{enumerate} \item 11- or 12-month-old infants produce and understand declarative pointing gestures. \item Producing or understanding pointing gestures involves understanding communicative actions. \item A communicative action is an action done with an intention to provide someone with evidence of an intention with the further intention of thereby fulfilling that intention. \item Pointing facilitates the developmental emergence of sophisticated cognitive abilities including mindreading \end{enumerate}

1. 11- or 12-month-old infants produce and understand declarative pointing gestures.

This is what we have evidence for

2. Producing or understanding pointing gestures involves understanding communicative actions.

This is the rejection of the ‘block-slab’ model of communication

3. A communicative action is an action done with an intention to provide someone with evidence of an intention with the further intention of thereby fulfilling that intention.

This is the theory I take Tomasello & Moll to endorse (although they are not very explicit about it, it’s based on their use of the term ‘shared intentionality’).

4. Pointing facilitates the developmental emergence of sophisticated cognitive abilities including mindreading.

Which claim should we reject?
I’d like to be able to reject (3). But to do that of course we have to supply an alternative account of what a communicative action is, one that doesn’t involve appeal to intention.