The Concept of Reference in the Cognitive Sciences
  • ISSN 0929-0907
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9943
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In the study of reference assignment, the question of what pragmatic criteria are used to evaluate the resulting interpretation seems not yet to have been properly dealt with. This paper addresses the issue by examining factors which affect the acceptability of various cases of bridging reference. It demonstrates that even highly successful accounts of reference assignment which place major emphasis on accessibility factors, e.g. the accessibility of candidate referents and the accessibility of contextual assumptions, must nonetheless involve some pragmatic criterion with which hearers can evaluate the resulting interpretation. Moreover, it argues that the pragmatic criterion used in reference assignment is not the truth-based one, which has been widely accepted, but the criterion of consistency with the principle of relevance proposed by Sperber and Wilson (1986/1995). Various accounts are tested against a wide range of examples on which I have conducted experimental tests with several sets of subjects.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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