How to do things with logical expressions

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We argue that logical expressions in human language enable speakers to perform particular acts as well as stating propositions which may be true or false. We present a conversational action planning model of co-ordinated reasoning, which we use to predict choice of logical expressions in situations in which two people co-operate in the face of risk and uncertainty. We first show how this model predicts preferences for formulations of conditional directives where a principal instructs an agent on how to behave in a hypothetical situation. Second, we show how this model accounts for choices of quantity and probability expressions that express risk, in situations where a professional advises a client on her options. We conclude that the pragmatic signals encoded in human logical vocabulary can facilitate the co-ordination of social interaction through aiding mutual recognition of intentions on joint projects where collaboration is likely to create value.


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