Dan Sperber (2007) Rudiments of cognitive rhetoric. Rhetoric Society Quarterly 37(4), 361-400.

First English translation of : Dan Sperber (1975) Rudiments de rhétorique cognitive, Poétique: Revue de Théorie et d’Analyse Littéraire (23) 389-415. Deirdre Wilson’s book Presuppositions and non-truth conditional semantics (1975) and this paper were the starting points of our collaboration in developing relevance theory. [PDF version]

Nicolas Claidière & Dan Sperber (2007) The role of attraction in cultural evolution. Journal of Cognition and Culture 7, 89-111.

Abstract: Henrich and Boyd (2002) were the first to propose a formal model of the role of attraction in cultural evolution. They came to the surprising conclusion that, when both attraction and selection are at work, final outcomes are determined by selection alone. Th is result is based on a determistic view of cultural attraction, different from the probabilistic view introduced in Sperber (1996). We defend this probabilistic view, show how to model it, and argue that, when both attraction and selection are at work, both affect final outcomes.

Dan Sperber (2007) Le témoignage et l’argumentation dans une perspective évolutionniste. Raisons Pratiques 17

Version française de: An evolutionary perspective on testimony and argumentation. Philosophical Topics 29, 401-413. (2001)

Luca Surian, Stefiania Caldi, Dan Sperber (2007) Attribution of beliefs by 13-month-old infants. Psychological Science 18, 580-586.

Abstract: In two experiments, we investigated whether 13-month-old infants expect agents to behave in a way consistent with information to which they have been exposed. Infants watched animations in which an animal was either provided information or prevented from gathering information about the actual location of an object. The animal then searched successfully or failed to retrieve it. Infants’ looking times suggest that they expected searches to be effective when—and only when—the agent had had access to the relevant information. This result supports the view that infants’ possess an incipient metarepresentational ability that permits them to attribute beliefs to agents. We discuss the viability of more conservative explanations and the relationship between this early ability and later forms of ‘theory of mind’ that appear only after children have become experienced verbal communicators.

Ira Noveck & Dan Sperber (2007) The why and how of experimental pragmatics: The case of ‘scalar inferences’. In N. Burton-Roberts (ed.), Advances in Pragmatics. (Palgrave)

“Although a few pioneers in psycholinguistics had, for more than twenty years, approached various pragmatic issues experimentally, it is only in the past few years that investigators have begun employing the experimental method in testing pragmatic hypotheses (see Noveck & Sperber 2004). We see this emergence of a proper experimental pragmatics as an important advance with a great potential for further development. In this chapter we want to illustrate what can be done with experimental approaches to pragmatic issues by presenting one case, that of so-called ‘scalar inferences’, where the experimental method has helped sharpen a theoretical debate and has provided uniquely relevant evidence…” [PDF version]

Dan Sperber & Lawrence Hirschfeld (2007) Culture and modularity. In P. Carruthers, S. Laurence, S. Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Culture and Cognition. (Oxford University Press), 149-164.

“…We agree with standard social science that culture is not human psychology writ large and that it would make little sense to seek a psychological reductionist explanation of culture. We believe, however, that psychological factors play an essential role in culture. Among these psychological factors, the modular organization of human cognitive abilities favors the recurrence, cross-cultural variability, and local stability of a wide range of cultural representations. “

Dan Sperber (2007) Seedless Grapes: Nature and Culture. In S. Laurence & E. Margolis (eds.), Creations of the Mind: Theories of Artifacts and their Representation, (Oxford University Press)

“…Domesticated plants and animals have simultaneously biological, cultural, and artifactual functions… How should we describe these functions and their articulation? What are the biological and cultural functions of seedless grapes, or of suntans, and how do these functions interact? In trying to answer such questions, we are led to rethink the relationship between nature and culture, and to reappraise the notion of an artifact….”