Prof Nick Chater (University of Warwick) will kick off our 2020/21 seminar series with a talk on Virtual Bargaining: The hidden logic of joint action and communication.
The seminar will take place online on Tuesday 6th October from 11-12.30 and is free to attend. To book a place, please email our Centre Manager, Helen Allwood.
Human communication is remarkably flexible and can involve the spontaneous creation of novel "obvious" conventions linking signals and meaning. But to do this requires that the sender and receiver of the signals "agrees" what the novel mapping between signals and meanings must be. How is this possible, without further communication (and hence the danger of an infinite regress)? I will discuss experiments with Jennifer Misyak demonstrating our remarkable flexibility; and outline a theory, based on "virtual bargaining" -- reasoning about what convention we *would* agree, if we could discuss which convention to choose. This approach aims to provide a foundation for pragmatic inference; and a possible explanation of how conventionalized systems of communication, most notably language, can get started.