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Title: Themes in linguistic understanding. Cognition and epistemology
Author: Grodniewicz, Jędrzej Piotr
Director/Tutor: García-Carpintero, Manuel
Macià, Josep
Keywords: Lingüística
Teoria del coneixement
Theory of knowledge
Issue Date: 10-Dec-2020
Publisher: Universitat de Barcelona
Abstract: [eng] In this thesis, I have presented and defended a series of claims regarding the nature and epistemic role of linguistic understanding. Firstly, I have argued that, besides the state- and disposition-sense of “linguistic under- standing,” quite commonly discussed in the philosophical debate, there is yet another, often overlooked, process-sense. I have argued that characterizing linguistic understanding as a process is not only justified from the philosophical point of view (linguistic understanding, just like other processes, unfolds over time) but also is very much in line with the current state of the art in empirical language sciences. Secondly, I have outlined a novel model of the representational structure of linguistic understanding. I have argued that this structure consists of at least three types of interdependent representations generated by a dual-stream process. The model I have offered establishes a middle ground between two popular accounts of the relation between comprehension and acceptance: Cartesian, on which we are free to either accept or reject comprehended information, and Spinozan, on which we automatically accept everything we comprehend. On my account, we automatically accept everything that passes the content-oriented filter (so-called validation ), i.e., everything that is not in obvious tension with our easily accessible background knowledge. Thirdly, I discussed the justification of comprehension-based beliefs, i.e., the beliefs about what other people say. I have argued that this justification is non-inferential, i.e., that it does not depend on the justification of other beliefs, such as the beliefs about what words the speaker uttered or what sounds they produced. Instead of defending the most common version of non-inferentialism about the justification of comprehension-based beliefs, i.e., a view on which these beliefs are prima facie justified by seemings that the speaker said so and so, I have offered a competitive account. On my account, which I call teleological comprehension-process reliabilism : (i) beliefs are prima facie justified if they are produced by a process that has forming true beliefs reliably as a function, and (ii) language comprehension is a process that has forming true comprehension-based beliefs reliably as a function. Fourthly, I have argued that despite what is assumed by many participants in the debate, we are not equipped with a mechanism that allows us to react discriminately to particular instances of untrustworthy testimony, i.e., to prevent the formation of beliefs based on such testimony. However, the fact that all, at least all adult members of our linguistic community are vigilant towards the signs of untrustworthiness, and that liars meet social retribution, brings the long-term benefit of decreasing the number of falsehoods and lies we encounter. This account of the psychosocial mechanisms involved in filtering of the comprehended content provides support for the strong anti-reductionism about testimonial entitlement, i.e., the view that we are prima facie entitled to believe whatever we are being told. Finally, together with the coauthors of Chapter 5: J. Adam Carter and Emma C. Gordon, I have argued that understanding a proposition, commonly identified with linguistic understanding, is a distinct phenomenon. More specifically, it is a type of objectual understanding, which is gradable, consistent with epistemic luck, and based on a subject’s grasping of the coherence-making relation between the elements of a given subject matter. Nevertheless, both linguistic understanding and understanding a proposition play an important role in our everyday communication. In typical cases of successful linguistic communication, we understand communicated thought, i.e., we understand both what proposition has been expressed by the use of a given utterance (linguistic understanding), and this proposition itself.
Appears in Collections:Tesis Doctorals - Facultat - Filosofia

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