I blog at ICCI

Dan Sperber & Deirdre Wilson (2014). Beyond speaker meaning. Unpublished draft

One of our aims in this paper is to show that building an adequate theory of communication involves going beyond Grice’s notion of speaker’s meaning. Another is to provide a conceptually unified explanation of how a wider variety of communicative acts than Grice was concerned with – including both cases of ‘showing that’ and ‘telling that’ – are understood. (This is a draft – Please do not quote!)

Nicolas Claidière, Thom Scott-Phillips, Dan Sperber. (2014) How Darwinian is cultural evolution? In Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 369: 20130368.

Abstract: Darwin-inspired population thinking suggests approaching culture as a population of items of different types, whose relative frequencies may change over time. Three nested subtypes of populational models can be distinguished: evolutionary, selectional and replicative. … we describe cultural evolution in terms of cultural attraction, which is populational and evolutionary, but only selectional under certain circumstances. …

Dezecache G., Conty L., Philip L., Chadwick M., Soussignan R., Sperber D. & Grèzes J. (2013). Evidence for unintentional emotional contagion beyond dyads. PLoS ONE, 8(6):e67371.

Abstract: Little is known about the spread of emotions beyond dyads. Yet, it is of importance for explaining the emergence of crowd behaviors. Here, we experimentally addressed whether emotional homogeneity within a crowd might result from a cascade of local emotional transmissions where the perception of another’s emotional expression produces, in the observer’s face and body, sufficient information to allow for the transmission of the emotion to a third party. … [Our] findings demonstrate that one is tuned to react to others’ emotional signals and to unintentionally produce subtle but sufficient emotional cues to induce emotional states in others…

Hugo Mercier & Dan Sperber (2012) “Two Heads Are Better” Stands to Reason. Science (Letter). Vol. 336 25 May 2012, 979

Short commentary on: Asher Koriat (2012) When Are Two Heads Better than One and Why? Science 336, 360 (2012);

Dan Sperber, Anne Coubray et Yann Schmitt (2011) Entretien avec Dan Sperber: Naturalisme, sciences cognitives et religion. Revue en ligne ThéoRèmes mis en ligne le 06 février 2011. URL : http://theoremes.revues.org/153

Dan Sperber. 1998. Are Folk Taxonomies “memes”? Commentary on Scott Atran (1998) ‘Folk biology and the anthropology of science: Cognitive universals and cultural particulars’. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21:4. 589-90

Abstract: This commentary stresses the importance of Atran’s work for the development of a new cognitive anthropology, but questions both his particular use of Dawkins’s “meme” model and the general usefulness of the meme model for understanding folk-taxonomies as cultural phenomena.

Dan Sperber (1984) Verbal Irony: Pretense or Echoic Mention?. In Journal of Experimental Psychology: General Vol. 113, No. I, 130-136

According to the mention theory of irony put forward by Sperber and Wilson and tested by Jorgensen, Miller, and Sperber, verbal ironies are implicit echoic mentions of meaning  conveying a derogatory attitude to the meaning mentioned. In their criticisms, Clark and Gerrig misrepresent mention theory. The pretense theory, which they offer as  a superior alternative, might provide a plausible description of parody, but it fails to account  for many types and many properties of irony proper.

Julia Jorgensen, George Miller, Dan Sperber (1984) Test of the Mention Theory of Irony. In Journal of Experimental Psychology: General Vol. 113, No. I, 112-120

The traditional theory of irony, which assumes that an ironist uses a figurative meaning opposite to the literal meaning of the utterance, is shown to be inadequate; an alternative theory is presented, which assumes that the ironist mentions the literal meaning of the utterance and expresses an attitude toward it. Although the implications for understanding irony are difficult to test, the two theories do make testable predictions about the conditions under which irony is perceived: The mention theory requires antecedent material for the ironist to mention, whereas the standard theory does not. A reading comprehension test was conducted involving anecdotes that satisfied the traditional criterion for irony but could include or omit antecedents for echoic mention. Results favored the mention theory of irony.

Dan Sperber & Deirdre Wilson (1981) Irony and the Use-Mention Distinction. In Peter Cole (ed.) Radical Pragmatics 295-318

The first account in English of our theory of verbal irony as echoic mention.