Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Rationality, pragmatics, and sources
Author: Collins, Peter J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6499 1966
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This thesis contributes to the Great Rationality Debate in cognitive science. It introduces and explores a triangular scheme for understanding the relationship between rationality and two key abilities: pragmatics – roughly, inferring implicit intended utterance meanings – and learning from sources. The thesis argues that these three components – rationality, pragmatics, and sources – should be considered together: that each one informs the others. The thesis makes this case through literature review and theoretical work (principally, in Chapters 1 and 8) and through a series of empirical chapters focusing on different parts of the triangular scheme. Chapters 2 to 4 address the relationship between pragmatics and sources, focusing on how people change their beliefs when they read a conditional with a partially reliable source. The data bear on theories of the conditional and on the literature assessing people’s rationality with conditionals. Chapter 5 addresses the relationship between rationality and pragmatics, focusing on conditionals ‘in action’ in a framing effect known as goal framing. The data suggest a complex relationship between pragmatics and utilities, and support a new approach to goal framing. Chapter 6 addresses the relationship between rationality and sources, using normative Bayesian models to explore how people respond to simple claims from sources of different reliabilities. The data support a two-way relationship between claims and source information and, perhaps most strikingly, suggest that people readily treat sources as ‘anti-reliable’: as negatively correlated with the truth. Chapter 7 extends these experiments to test the theory that speakers can guard against reputational damage using hedging. The data do not support this theory, and raise questions about whether trust and vigilance against deception are prerequisites for pragmatics. Lastly, Chapter 8 synthesizes the results; argues for new ways of understanding the relationships between rationality, pragmatics, and sources; and relates the findings to emerging formal methods in psychology.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available