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Journal Articles Synthese Year : 2021

Hearing meanings: the revenge of context

Luca Gasparri


According to the perceptual view of language comprehension, listeners typically recover high-level linguistic properties such as utterance meaning without inferential work. The perceptual view is subject to the Objection from Context: since utterance meaning is massively context-sensitive, and context-sensitivity requires cognitive inference, the perceptual view is false. In recent work, Berit Brogaard provides a challenging reply to this objection. She argues that in language comprehension context-sensitivity is typically exercised not through inferences, but rather through top-down perceptual modulations or perceptual learning. This paper provides a complete formulation of the Objection from Context and evaluates Brogaards reply to it. Drawing on conceptual considerations and empirical examples, we argue that the exercise of context-sensitivity in language comprehension does, in fact, typically involve inference.
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hal-03281849 , version 1 (22-11-2021)


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Luca Gasparri, Michael Murez. Hearing meanings: the revenge of context. Synthese, 2021, 198 (6), pp.5229-5252. ⟨10.1007/s11229-019-02398-0⟩. ⟨hal-03281849⟩
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