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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: July 2019

Part I - Relevance Theory and Cognitive Communicative Issues

  • Edited by Kate Scott, Kingston University, London, Billy Clark, Northumbria University, Newcastle, Robyn Carston, University College London
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • pp 27-112


Nicholas Allott considers how relevance theory can be seen as responding to doubts about the possibility of any kind of systematic pragmatic theory. He considers three sceptical positions: Fodor’s argument that pragmatic processes are not amenable to scientific study because they are unencapsulated (highly context-sensitive), Chomsky’s claim that human intentional action is a mystery rather than a scientifically tractable problem, and a third view which maintains that intentional communication is too complex for systematic study. Allott argues that work in relevance theory can be seen as successfully challenging these sceptical views and he gives concrete examples of its achievements.