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Sharedness as an innate basis for communication in the infant

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Document pages: 7 pages

Abstract: From a cognitive perspective, intentional communication may be viewed as an agent s activity overtly aimed at modifying a partner s mental states. According to standard Gricean definitions, this requires each party to be able to ascribe mental states to the other, i.e., to entertain a so-called theory of mind. According to the relevant experimental literature, however, such capability does not appear before the third or fourth birthday; it would follow that children under that age should not be viewed as communicating agents. In order to solve the resulting dilemma, we propose that certain specific components of an agent s cognitive architecture (namely, a peculiar version of sharedness and communicative intention), are necessary and sufficient to explain infant communication in a mentalist framework. We also argue that these components are innate in the human species.

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