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Title: Natural expression : its place in communication and action
Author: Rhys-Jones, K. G.
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1983
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The dominant aim of this thesis is to define a concept of natural expression the precise extension of which is left undetermined, being subject to empirical investigation. Nevertheless, paradigm examples with respect to which the question is raised: 'Are they natural expressions?' include smiling and other facial expressions. In pursuit of this aim suggestions are made concerning the logical form of sentences about expression (expression is not, in my view, best regarded as a relation), comparisons are drawn between the interpretation of utterances and the interpretation of non-linguistic expressions (and both contrasted to explanation), and, subsequently, between the latter and what Davidson calls the 'causal redescription of actions'. The task of defining expression is then conceived of as partly consisting in the specification of the cognitive effects such that when an action is truly described 'in terms of' them, it is expressive. In the ensuing analysis, much of the work is done by adapting Christopher Peacocke's notion of 'prima-facie evidence'. The notion of 'physiognomic perception', ie. the way in which we see eg. anger in eg. a scowl, is critically discussed and related to the foregoing. The relevance of correlations between emotion and behaviour to natural expression is then assessed. In the penultimate chapter I argue that expressive behaviour is natural if there exists innate dispositions to exhibit it under certain conditions and innate capacities to interpret it correctly. The relevance of this to radical interpretation, concept-acquisition, and the explanation of action is considered. The contributions of some social scientists to this area are critically examined and broad prescriptions are made concerning the nature of the evidence to be taken into account in determining the naturalness of a given type of behaviour. I conclude with a tentative endorsement and formulation of 'immanent realism' with respect to other minds.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Philosophy