Contextualism, Relativism and Practical Conflicts and Disagreement
Communication in Context -- Shared Understanding in a Complex World, (CCCOM), , is a new collaborative research project under the Eurocores programme of the European Science Foundation. One of the individual projects of CCCOM is based in Centro de Filosofia da Universidade de Lisboa, with the LanCog group.
THE GENERAL PROJECT
The project CCCOM investigates the nature and preconditions of communicative success in the complex communicative situation that is the human predicament. The overall objective is to develop a new theory of communicative success, one that explains how communication is possible despite the obstacles posed by the cultural and contextual differences that form the backdrop of human interaction. The main hypothesis is that successful communication requires sufficient overlap in the message communicated (instead of identity). This hypothesis is developed by all of the disciplines involved in the collaborative research project (CRP): semantics, pragmatics, game theory, value theory, cognitive science, socio-linguistics, experimental philosophy and psychology. Three central themes provide focal points for the CRP and tie together its theoretical and experimental aspects: Communicative success, Context and Coordination ('CCC'). (i) A main goal is to develop a theory of communicative success, both with respect to the level of semantic content and with respect to the full pragmatic information. Theoretical groundwork is done in order to spell out the overlap thesis properly and experiments on speakers' categorization dispositions and on their use of referential expressions and natural kind terms are carried out. (ii) Language is rife with context dependent expressions and much pragmatic information is dependent on contextual features of the utterance situation. The CRP aims to account for the role of context and explain how communication succeeds despite the fact that the communicating subjects often do not share exactly the same context. (iii) Language is a conventional way to solve recurrent coordination problems, and as such serves a common interest. But language is also used when interests are in conflict, in which case there is often lying and deception. The CRP examines how linguistic practices remain stable despite non-cooperative behavior of this sort. A theory of value conflicts is also developed and applied to central cases.
- Communication in Context (Stockholm), Åsa Wikforss, Peter Pagin, Sören Häggqvist
- Words in Worlds (Trondheim/Turku), Jussi Haukioja
- Contextualism, Relativism and Practical Conflicts and Disagreements (Lisbon), Teresa Marques
- Communication and the possibility of deceit, a game theoretical analysis (Amsterdam), Robert van Rooij
- The Comprehension of Referential Expressions and its Impact on Communication (Osnabrück), Peter Bosch
- Social Categories Considered from Different Points of View (London), James Hampton
- Game Theoretical Linguistics (Tübingen), Gerhard Jäger
- Verbal Disputes and Reference (Tartu), Daniel Cohnitz
THE PROJECT IN LISBON
Contextualism, Relativism and Practical Conflicts and Disagreements
Starting Date: July 2011
Duration of Project: 3 years
PI: Teresa Marques
In the social sciences, cultural multiplicity has been taken as evidence for cultural relativism: the thesis that customs, aesthetic trends and values, and morality are relative to given cultural systems, systems that vary along time and from place to place, and in some cases, between social groups and even individuals. The plausibility of relativism acquires further support from the realization that it is implausible that there are objective truths about what is right or wrong, good or bad, either in morality, aesthetics or matters of taste, that are independent of there being humans who make judgements in such domains.
The coherence of relativism has been disputed by philosophers (starting with Plato), but even if relativism does not succumb to such attacks, some questions require an answer, namely:
(I) How do we explain the apparent existence of, for instance, moral progress?
(II) How are the notions of agreement and disagreement in these domains to be explained?
Recent proposals generalize semantic frameworks with centred propositions (propositions true not just at a world, but also at a centre: a time, or place, individual) to explain the perspectival nature of some areas of discourse. This project aims to offer an adequate account of the crucial notions of doxastic and practical disagreement in those problematic areas. A secondary aim is to apply the notion of practical disagreement, to be developed while the project runs, to some issues in the philosophy of law, focusing on sex- and gender based conflicts and discrimination, and developing an account of the notion of the grounds or basis of discrimination.
The launch meeting of the EuroUnderstanding CRP projects took place from 14 to 16 October 2011, http://www.esf.org/activities/eurocores/running-programmes/eurounderstanding/events/launch-meeting.html
1 post-doctoral position
The new post-doctoral position with our project is offered to Andreas Stokke. Congratulations, Andreas!
CFP: Special Issue of Erkenntnis on “Disagreements”
People agree and disagree about a lot of things: what happens around them, what to do, about matters of taste, and, more generally, about world views, values, policies, theories, philosophies, etc. Some disagreements appear to be “faultless” — no party in such a dispute needs to be mistaken. Other disagreements, seem to be “merely verbal”, and perhaps no real disagreements at all. In both cases, philosophers have argued that this diagnosis should lead to deflationism about the subject-matter of the initial (apparent) disagreement. If disagreements about a certain subject matter are faultless, then there are no objective truths about that subject matter; if disagreements about a certain subject matter are merely verbal, then they concern a pseudo-problem. Still some other disagreements seem to involve less what people explicitly believe or think about something than their dispositions to act towards a given goal. This special issue of Erkenntnis is devoted to the varieties of disagreement that arise in different areas of discourse.
The special issue is edited by Teresa Marques (Lisbon) and Daniel Cohnitz (Tartu).
Papers should be emailed to mariateresamarques @ campus.ul.pt or cohnitz @ ut.ee no later than
April 1st, 2012.
Submissions must be in English and conform to the submission standards of Erkenntnis (please consult the “instructions for authors” here: http://www.springer.com/philosophy/journal/10670#)
All submissions must be prepared for blind review.