In Keith Allan, Jay David Atlas, Brian E. Butler, Alessandro Capone, Marco Carapezza, Valentina Cuccio, Denis Delfitto, Michael Devitt, Graeme Forbes, Alessandra Giorgi, Neal R. Norrick, Nathan Salmon, Gunter Senft, Alberto Voltolini & Richard Warner (eds.), Further Advances in Pragmatics and Philosophy: Part 1 From Theory to Practice. Springer Verlag. pp. 221-242 (2018)

Valentina Cuccio
University of Parma
In pragmatic theories, the notion of inference plays a central role, together with the communicative act in which it is activated. Although some scholars, such as Levinson, Sperber and Wilson, propose detailed and accurate analyses of this notion, we will maintain that these analyses can be better systematized if seen through Peirce’s notion of abduction. We will try to maintain that the variety of inferential processes in play in a linguistic act is mostly of an abductive nature. Moreover, we will maintain that the typological tripartition of abductions discussed by Eco allows to account for a significant part of the mechanisms involved in the comprehension of an utterance, ranging from quasi-immediate and spontaneous levels of understanding to processes that draw on creative resources. In our proposal the vast majority of our linguistic activities implies the automatic retrieval of a habit of action. In the other cases we need more onerous processes. We might need to identify, among a range of possibilities, the appropriate rule to be applied to the contextual situation or, depending on the context and on our background knowledge, we might be forced to create ex novo a new linguistic routine. In our view, this typology of abductive inferences provides us with all the necessary tools to account for the different inferential demands entailed by different levels of the process of language comprehension. On the basis of this typology we can, develop a fine-grained model of linguistic inferences and, thus, simplify the terms of some problematic nodes debated within contextualist approaches.The benefits of this fine-grained model is that it provides a unitary framework in which all the levels of the process of language comprehension are shown to be inferential and have the same logic structure. At the same time, it is also able to account for all the different inferential efforts entailed by different linguistic processes. Thus, this model gives us both a unitary account of the structure of linguistic inferences and a fine-grained description of the differences existing between them.
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DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-72173-6_11
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